Recalling the blizzard of ’86

Think it's been cold and gross this week? Kansas pioneers faced temperatures 30-degrees-below-zero in some places in 1886. Cattle were killed by the thousands. Nearly 100 Kansans froze to death, some just feet from their homes.

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February 19, 2021 - 1:52 PM

The Valentin Gerth Cabin in Greeley in Anderson County was built in 1856 by an early pioneer. It would have been standing during the blizzard of 1886. Photo by COURTESY OF THE ANDERSON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Think it’s been cold and gross this week? Imagine being a Kansas pioneer during the blizzard of 1886.

A train surrounded by numerous onlookers is frozen on snow-covered tracks in Ford County, following the blizzard of 1886. Photo by Courtesy Kansas State Historical Society

In early January, just weeks before Kansas’ 25th birthday, the state was blasted by a snowstorm the likes of which no one had ever seen.

Temperatures dropped to 30 degrees below zero in places, and many had little more than a cheaply-built cabin with a fireplace to keep warm.

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