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Pioneers on the Plains - January 10, 2020

Q: Eastern Kansas is bracing for a winter storm this weekend that will likely bring several rounds of snow and freezing rain. As bad as that sounds, times were even tougher on the pioneers. According to the Kansas Historical Society, one blizzard was so bad that an estimated 100 Kansans froze to death. In what year did this happen?

(Here's a hint: It happened during the "Blizzard of eighteen-eighty..." - what?)


A: 1886

The extremes of Kansas weather created many hardships for pioneers. Such was the case during the Blizzard of 1886. According to the Kansas Historical Society, a series of cold spells and heavy snowfall culminated in the first week of January. That's when a huge snowstorm accompanied by high winds hit the central plains. Drifts of six feet or more were common. And the temperature dropped to 30 degrees below zero in some places. Many homes on the prairie and High Plains had been quickly and cheaply built, leaving settlers ill prepared to protect themselves -- or their livestock -- from such cold. It's been estimated that nearly 100 Kansans froze to death during the Blizzard of 1886. The snow was so heavy, it even stopped a train in western Kansas, which then froze to the rails.  

Here's what the National Weather Service has to say about the Blizzard of 1886.

And here's what the History Channel has to say.

More interesting, winter-related information from the Kansas Historical Society

Bundle up, Kansas! And enjoy more Kansas Trivia from #MyKPR's online archives.