Saturday, May 19, 2012

State Street Snowstorm Thanksgiving 1956

Thanksgiving 1956 Snowstorm on State Street in Erie, Pa. Photo courtesy of Sandra K. Sagala ©SKS 2012.

The Great Snowstorm of 1956

The Thanksgiving Snowstorm of 1956 was one for the Erie, Pennsylvania record books. Twenty-seven inches of snow brought the city to a standstill. Cars were stranded all over Erie, PA. The National Guard was brought in. Helicopters airlifted food. WICU-TV on State Street. Yes, it was really THAT BIG! This photo shows the S.S. Kresge Co. on the left (on the west side) of State Street. Next is Eckerd Drugs, a chain that started in Erie on the northwest corner of Ninth and State. The Boston Store at 716 State Street is a familiar landmark, since the building still stands. Lots of Christmas decorations hang from the telephone poles.

Did you spend the snow storm of 1956 glued to your radio? What do you remember about November 22, 1956 and the great Thanksgiving Blizzard?


Click here to see a shot of Station Road (Route 430) in nearby Wesleyville, PA Thanksgiving 1956 snowstorm.

Enjoy more historic facts and photos of Erie, PA at: Old Time Erie

18 comments:

  1. This photo is a great flash back in time...not just the storm, either, I always loved those candy canes that the city put up and the huge full colorfully lit tree that Boston Store always placed on the State Street overhang. The city and every business went all out to decorate for Christmas and every telephone line was wrapped with garland and lights all the way up to 12th Street. There was a parade every year in the early evening on the day after Thanksgiving. At the end of the parade was Santa in his sleigh waving at all the onlookers. Eventually the Boston Store changed the type of tree and the canes ended up on Peach Street when the city bought new decorations for State Street.

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  2. I was only 4 years old for this one but I do remember many a snow storm that buried the city. Perhaps not as extreme as this one but still made travel difficult. Erie and it's snowfall.

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  3. We lived out in Fairview, on Walnut Creek Hill on Rt. 20. The State Police closed it and a carload of family coming home from a big Italian wedding were "stranded" at out house for almost a week. They had great food & drink they were bringing home...a good time was had by all. We lit a fire in the back yard and food was dropped by helicopters. We sledded down Walnut Creek Hill on the main rd.

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  4. I REMEMBER HAD THANKSGIVING AT MY GRANDMOTHERS, NEAR hAMMERMILL PAPER AND THEN WALKING WITH MY UNCLE BACK TO 21ST AND ASH.I WAS NINE YEARS OLD.

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  5. I remember that storm. My husband and I and our 6 month old son had to stay overnight. We were on East 28th St at East Ave. My husband walked to work at the A&P on 28TH and on Parade. Later in the day I was able to get home to 7th and Reed Sts.

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  6. I remember this snow storm like it was yesterday,,,,my birthday party got canceled,,,my brother his wife and infant were stuck at our house for a week,,no formula,,no reg milk,,,no bread,,,,quite a week,,,,,

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  7. I remember the 56 snow storm. Aunts and Uncles from Dunkirt N.Y. coming in and said when they just got into Laraspark, thanks when it started...remember on Reed st. sliding down that little hill in front of our house. back than it was pretty big with the snow piled up..

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  8. Was 11 years old, living in Girard at the time. Dad had to go out an upstairs window and drop down to get to the doors to shovel them out. My brothers and I made a spiderweb of tunnels in the back yard, pushing snow to the sides, and never breaking the top surface, with enough light filtering thru the snow to see what we were doing. We oriented by landmarks - sidewalk, flagstones, bushes, clothesline poles, etc. What a time to be a kid ! Believe the snow depth was pretty close to 5 feet.

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    1. What a cool memory! Thanks for sharing. We get more than our fair share of snow in Erie County.

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    2. I was about 9 years old, we lived in French Creek NY deep in the snow belt. The snow drifts were 12 foot high in places and the snow was nearly up to the tops of telephone poles. Our very long driveway was full of 5 to 6 foot drifts and our family was snowed in. I can still see my dad with icicles hanging from his eyebrows and nose keeping the barn clean and the cattle fed. Snow remained in drifts by the woods until June there was so much drifted snow.

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  9. I was 6 years old I clearly remember this storm as I was out playing in the snow with my friends and an Army tank came up Pennsylvania Ave and stopped to say hello to all the kids and then went on up Pennsylvania Ave to 38th st. What an impression for a 6 year old I have never forgotten that.

    Great photos of Erie thanks

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  10. I remember this storm and I was only 4 years old at the time. Snow so deep you couldn't see out the windows. My paternal grandparents were snowed in at our house. I think we lived on Hazel street at the time.

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  11. Grandparents had arrived for the Holiday, and were snowed-in for two days! As a little kid, the backyard was just perfect for a huge snowman, and of course sledding at Frontier Hill was a delight! National Guard trucks were brought in to help open streets. The first vehicle I saw was a Firch Bakery truck, heading up the street to G&H Grocery on West 8th & Mohawk Dr.

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  12. I was 14 years old and remember this snow storm. Me and my friends loved it. Snow in Erie, as a kid, was always a fun time. We could shovel walks and diveways and make a few cents, and in those days, it was a few cents. We would have major snowball fights. Snow in Erie was a fun time, especially this much snow. Of course at 14 we didn't have to drive in it or do much of anything in it except have fun.

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  13. I lived on the corner of 29th and Maple St. The snow was up over the windows. My Grandfather used the basement coal shovel to dig out the kitchen door. First thing I saw was a tank going over 29th street towards Cherry street.

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  14. Ahh, the storm of "56", we lived on West Ridge Road, out by the airport, and watched as Mother Nature exercised her wrath on Millcreek, our family viewed the storm through a big picture window that faced the highway. We snuggled close to the fireplace as we listened to the weather reports and watched the driving conditions go from bad, to a complete stop! A truck driver hauling potatoes from Maine to somewhere out west had become stranded in front of our home, as the driver scrambled to light his heat pots in the trailer to prevent the potatoes from freezing, Dad was putting on his winter gear to assist as best he could, afterwards Dad invited him into our home to spend his down-time with us.... what a great experience, and a lesson in hospitality. Well, Norm, spent nearly a week with us, and became a good friend of the family, and for years we would often find a bag of potatoes on our front steps. Nothing warms the soul like a childhood memory.

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  15. I remember this well and have related to my children and grandchildren more than once over the years, My youngest sister still lives in our house on Western Lane, in Millcreek. That Thanksgiving my maternal grandparents had come for dinner. At 7yrs old, I was the eldest of four children, and my brother was the youngest, at just 4 months. After being completely snowed-in for several days, a very real crisis arose. We ran out of formula for my brother and were dangerously low on regular milk. I remember my mother frantically calling Ferranti's, a corner store two blocks away, only to be told they were out of any for of milk. She finally found some at Cook's Market, (just east of Powell Ave. on 12th St), and they agreed to hold 2 bottles of milk for us......but, we still needed to get there! It took my Dad and my Grandfather two hours to dig through snow that drifted up and completely blocked our front door, before they reached the street. My Dad then walked the nearly two miles to Cook's, purchased the milk and waited long enough to thaw out and warm up before making the return trek home. Once he arrived back home, I remember sitting in front of our fireplace for a very long time!

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  16. We lived on Main St. in Girard. We were supposed to travel to Jamestown, NY for Thanksgiving dinner. I shoveled out our driveway in the morning and several hours later you couldn't tell I'd done it. Fortunately, we stayed home. I was supposed to return to Pittsburgh for the Pitt- Penn State FB game on Saturday. I didn't make it. We watched a national guard tank help pull stranded trucks out of the snow in front of our house.

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