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Feb. 11—”Worst Blizzard on Record” was the headline of the Wilkes-Barre Record on Feb. 14, 1899.

The entire Wyoming Valley, including the mountainous territories of Bear Creek, Mountain Top and Back Mountain, were completely shut down.

Street cars and railroad traffic came to a halt as did coal collieries.

“After a day of heroic battle, all the human forces that could be brought into play against the elements have been forced to succumb and the city is fast locked in the embrace of the worst blizzard in the history of the local weather bureau,” the Record reported.

Mother Nature threw a lot on Northeastern Pennsylvania in February 1899.

Two days before the Feb. 13, 1899, blizzard, there was already a snow pack of eight to 14 inches across the region with temperatures plummeting to 10 to 20 degrees below zero.

Imagine living in those conditions at a time when homes had no insulation, single pane windows and were heated by either coal or wood.

Roofs caved in from the heavy weight of snow, killing and injuring many across the valley.

Daily passenger trains were abandoned east and west of Wilkes-Barre, including a New Jersey Central train with 85 passengers stuck near White Haven, unable to travel due to the heavy snowfall.

A Feb. 13, 1899, a telegram to the New Jersey Central Passenger Railroad Station, today’s Luzerne County Visitor’s Center, read: “The storm is raging fiercely, with high winds. The snow is over two feet deep on the level, the drifts being five and six feet in many areas. Delaware and Hudson Railroad day passenger trains were abandoned.”

“Early in the morning, a milk train left the station for Glen Summit and Fairview having on board a hundred snow shovelers. Although the workmen shoveled earnestly on the mountain, they could make little headway owing to the high winds which piled the snow back on the tracks as fast as it was removed,” the Record reported.

The Record described the snow storm as a “white sheet” with visibility down to one foot.

The Wilkes-Barre Traction Company halted service transporting passengers from the downtown area to points of Wyoming, Forty Fort, Plymouth, Ashley, Dallas and Plains Township. The Kingston line remained open due to hundreds of workmen shoveling snow by hand and with machines.

“Traffic on the West Pittston and Plymouth lines were abandoned,” the Record reported.

Wilkes-Barre firefighters were sent out to shovel snow from “fire plugs” at corners throughout the city.

Along with the heavy snow, the cold wave impacted restaurants with “over freezing” oysters, fish and meat, the newspaper reported.

It took several days, but passengers trains and the traction company resumed operations.

The Feb. 14, 1899, blizzard was not the only winter storm to hit on Valentine’s Day.

An extended period of heavy sleet and snow on Feb. 14, 2007, caused havoc across the valley, including the collapse of the Hoyt Library roof in Kingston.



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