Letter, Jan. 16, 2014

Wyoming winters

always interesting

Re: Snowstorm of 1983-84

The winter of 1983-84 was not too bad until April of ’84, when the “snow” hit the fan, so to speak. Cattle and sheep were out on the range.

Cattle piled up in fence corners, and in one case I know of, the critters walked over the top of their herd-mates and wandered onto the railroad tracks where they were hit by a train.

Snow filled the I-90 underpasses between Buffalo and Gillette.

On Cottonwood Creek south of Arvada, sheep, moving with the wind, “swam” out into some trees growing close over the edge of a cut-bank creek where they became snagged in the branches. When the snow melted it left the animals suspended 20 feet off the creek bed.

I have some photos taken with a cheap camera but they don’t transmit well electronically. Someday when I get a “Round Tuit,” I will locate the negatives, get better prints made along with digital copies, and make them available to the Wyoming Room at the library.

I was caught in another such storm about 10 years earlier that was concentrated more in the eastern part of Sheridan and Johnson counties.

It started warm with ice forming on the power and phone lines that were all overhead at the time. The power went down, but I cruised the main roads with a fiberglass telescoping measuring pole that I used to whack the ice from the phone lines to keep them working.

Although successful, I stayed too long in the area and became stranded at the Knudson Ranch for three days. It would have been longer except for the cattle shipper who had some trucks he needed to rescue, so he hired a huge front-end loader to clear the Crazy Woman Road from Buffalo to Powder River.

I lived in Clearmont at the time, but the only way to get there was back through Buffalo. Then, at Junior and Helen Mitchell’s ranch east of Ucross, people had to go through the fences into the hayfields to bypass a dip in the highway that had close to 30 feet of snow in it.

Main Street in Clearmont was drifted clear to the tops of the buildings, but the snow shrank quickly and in about a week it was gone.

It makes life interesting: one day it’s like Antarctica, and a week later people are planting gardens. It’s Wyoming! What can I say?

Mike Kuzara

Wyarno


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