pub-769827371306972 pub-769827371306972
top of page

When icicles hang by the wall in Bluffton

And thermometers reach 25 below - plus, lots of snow photos below

M. Twain wrote: “Weather is a literary specialty, and no untrained hand can turn out a good article on it.” However, Mr. Twain never met Ted Biery, Bluffton News editor from 1912 to 1953.


Turns out Ted had a massive file system on Bluffton. One of his files was “Weather.” Whenever the temperature dropped, or rose to a record-breaking number, and whenever rain, high wind and freak storms visited, Ted would search his weather file for an interesting look-back, or as he often mentioned “oldtimers recall…”


Here are two example of how he handled weather stories. We’ve added his byline to these two. In addition, two other weather stories from the 1890s are posted, written by either N. W. Cunningham or I.N. Heminger. Each of these stories demonstrate how early Bluffton News editors used words rather than photos to tell their weather stories.


1946 Bluffton News, about the

May 23, 1883, snowfall

By Ted Biery

Just in case you happened to wonder whether the weather of the past week set any records for low temperatures, we can assure you that it didn’t – although top coats were quite comfortable.


The  oldtimers still recall that it was 63 years ago – on May 23, 1883, to be exact when a crowd of Bluffton youths of that day celebrated by taking a bobsled ride out thru the country after a heavy snowfall, passing orchards with apple trees in full bloom.


The snow, as they remembered it, was about a foot deep but it didn’t stay long. Much of the corn was badly damaged but wheat and fruit came thru in good condition.


An early frost, that fall, however, added to farmers’ difficulties.


Jan. 17, 1895

The snow storm, which set in last Friday night and continued almost without cessation until Sunday evening, was perhaps the most severe that has visited this section for years, If ever, within the recollection of man.


A remarkable feature was the intense cold which accompanied the storm on Saturday, the mercury ranging from two to ten degrees below zero the entire day and the snow continually falling.


The total depth of snow, with the fall of last Thursday night which remained on the ground, is not less than twenty inches on a level. It required considerable effort to keep paths and walks open and the sidewalks would have been well nigh impassable had not Street Commissioner Temple opened them up over the entire village with a horse and snow plow, going over many of the walks a second time.


If the snow remains there will be excellent sleighing when the tracks get well broken, but the depth of the snow and unfrozen ground in the woods will prevent mill men and others from utilizing it to any great extend for hauling timber.


January 1897

The thermometers about town registered all the way from 13 to 24 degrees below zero Monday morning, the coldest weather we have experienced in many a day. Not withstanding the cold, however, the News recorded two new subscribers before 9-o’ clock.


The great 1918 blizzard has a birthday Sunday

By Ted Biery, posted in January 1958

Snowdrifts ten feet deep might seem like one of Grandpa’s tall tales to the younger generation but if you lived in Bluffton on Saturday, January 12, 1918, you saw the day when this tale came true.


It will be 40 years ago on Sunday since Bluffton experienced what is commonly called the worst storm in all its recorded history.


The Bluffton News of January 17, 1918, said Bluffton’s “oldest inhabitants are unable to recall a storm that equaled it in intensity.”


No storm in 40 years since then has left the village so badly battered as this one wild blizzard.


The official weather records show the temperatures dipped as low as 16 degrees below zero, while some local thermometers dipped as low as 25 below.


Sixty-nine-an-hour winds drove the storm into town about 11:30 p.m., Friday. As the velocity of the wind increased every hours the gale swept the streets of snow and banked it against buildings and on the sidewalks.


The high winds blowing clouds of snow kept trade at a standstill all Saturday. Many local housewives dependent on the Saturday trade to secure their produce supplies for the week were forces to be without butter and eggs over Sunday.


Not a buggy or auto was seen on Grove Street all day Saturday or Sunday. The east and west bound trains over the L.E.&W. due Saturday were stalled and did not arrive. No traffic was run over the Northern Ohio railroad. The western Ohio interurban line was not opened between Findlay and Lima until late Sunday night as only a few slim telephone and telegraph lines kept Bluffton connected with the outside world. No newspapers reached town for over two days, 

1909 snowfall

The standpipe connecting the large reserve tank supplying the water remains froze and burst Sunday, the tank, with its capacity of 85,000 gallons was at least partly frozen.


The intense cold on Saturday together with a shortage of coal combined to make things anything but comfortable in many of Bluffton’s business places. In one business house the thermometer registered 28 degrees above zero and the ink was found frozen in the wells.


Sunday school and church services were suspended Sunday and instead of attending Sunday school Bluffton fell to work shoveling snow and opening the street.


Except when absolutely necessary no one was on the streets during the first day of the blizzard. Those few who were out were wrapped and bundled almost beyond recognition.


Some folks who did not realize the intensity of the cold suffered frosted ears and frozen faces before they had learned that winter was here.

(This photo is believed to be taken

during the 1918 blizzard)


Roads in the county were a succession of big drifts. Probably one of the largest was reported on the Brundage road east of Bluffton where a titanic mound of snow from six to ten feet deep extended for over 500 feet.


Storms have hit the area many time in the past 40 years but none of them can compared with the great blizzard of 1918 which brought the town to its knees for several days.

Feb. 15, 1909 Main Street Bluffton (photo above)

Photo believed to be taken following the 1918 blizzard

Another photo probably following the 1918 blizzard. Click here for photo details

Snowfall in the 1920 - it's Science Hall on the Bluffton College campus. Click for more photo details.

Who reading this story lived through the 1977 blizzard - it stopped this AC&Y freight train dead in its path. Click for more photo details.

Late 1950s-early 1960s - today it's the

Ellerbrock Spine and Soft Tissue building



bottom of page