History’s Gem of the Month: Snowstorm Article from 1988

February 2009

While searching through my archives, I came across this article published in the Detroit Free Press on Friday, February 12, 1988. Given that we have an old fashioned winter this year, I feel that it is appropriate to include the reprint this month.


is kid stuff, UP folks say – Downstate troubles pale next to Yoopers’ tales
By David Hacker

Bad weather downstate, eh?

Listen you Loopers, take a cue from the yoopers when Mother Nature offers a midseason white sale the likes of Thursday’s storm.

Almost a foot of snow? Ten degrees and 30 m.p.h. winds?

Pffffffft. That’s nothing they say.

Bessie Capogrosa can see snow banks 10 feet high when she looks out the window of her Superior Hotel in Grand Marais on the north shore of the Upper Peninsula.

Jim Carter, a Grand Marais native and local historian, now news director at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, recalls “the huge blizzard of 1938, when (the snow was so high) you could walk up to the second-story porch of an old hotel. I’ve got a picture of my mother sitting on the crossbar of a power pole.”

“Ten inches of snow? I wouldn’t notice it,” said Celeste Bailey of Grand Marais.

A friend of Carter’s, Ed Erickson, played for Grand Marais High School in the district basketball tournament in Marquette in March 1928. Earlier that winter, Grand Marais had been marooned for a week by impassable snowdrifts. Two weeks before the team was to leave for Marquette, the town was sealed off again.

“The superintendent, George Butler, who also was the coach, and a half-dozen players snowshoed the 26 miles to Seney to catch the night train to Marquette”, Carter said. “They lost to Republic, 27-14.”

“In the late 1880s, Carter said, a Manistique Railway train got stuck in the snow for a week a few miles from Seney. The engineer spent the week snowshoeing back and forth into town to get food for passengers.

“We think of ourselves being tough guys up here, said John Vaara, principal of Hancock High School, where 29 inches of snow covered the ground Thursday. “We have had a real harsh winter. We hear about snow days elsewhere in the state where schools are missing many, many more days. We sent the kids home early two days but we haven’t had a snow day yet.”

Bill Nyman, who has driven an Alger County snowplow out of Grand Marais, said “Our average snowfall here is over 200 inches. One winter we had over 300 inches. A year or so after I went to work here 17 years ago … — I think it was the winter of ’72 – I’d come to work at 7 in the morning and stay until midnight. I would go home so tired I couldn’t sleep. Then I’d be plowing snow in my sleep and shoveling snow out of the end of my bed.”

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