97 years ago, snow just kept falling

Lowland snow wimps have – so far – gotten off easy this winter. While last January’s snowstorms blanketed Snohomish County for days and gave kids an extra winter vacation, it’s been rain and sun, wind and fog, everything but snow around here this year.

No year in memory or recorded local history compares to the winter of 1916.

“Snohomish County: An Illustrated History,” a 2005 book by David Cameron, Charles LeWarne, M. Allan May, Jack O’Donnell and Lawrence O’Donnell, tells the story: Snow began falling Jan. 31, 1916, and just kept falling for three days.

“Officially more than 30 inches fell in Everett in one 36-hour period. Many outlying areas reported considerably more,” the book says. “Snow depth was reported to be 42 inches in Snohomish and 48 inches in Marysville.” The Stillaguamish River froze over. Businesses, schools and transportation shut down, including the Interurban trolley that connected downtown Seattle to Everett from 1910 to 1939.

Seattle wasn’t spared. According to the HistoryLink website, the “Big Snow of 1916” caused the collapse of the great dome of St. James Cathedral, “which landed in a heap in the nave and choir of the sanctuary.”

Now through Jan. 27, visitors to the Edmonds Historical Museum can relive that storied winter and others at the “Winters of Yesteryear” exhibit. The exhibit, which opened Nov. 14, features vintage skis, sleds, ice skates and historic photos from the museum’s collection. Among those photos are images of that amazing winter, 97 years ago.

The museum is open 1-4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays at 118 Fifth Ave. N., Edmonds. Information: 425-774-0900.

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