Thursday, April 4, 2013

Great Nashville Blizzard of 1951


  When I was growing up and the subject of snow or bad winter weather came up there was always an older person that would talk about the "Great Blizzard" of 1951. Everything was measured against that experience. I was not quite a year old when it happened. It started out as a huge ice storm and then snowed on top of that. It was the thick ice that was so destructive. We have had eight inch snow falls since 1951 that have slowed Nashvillian's but they have not shut the city down like the blizzard of 51 did. That was eight inches of ice and snow. The ice weighted down power lines causing them to snap. Sixteen thousand homes, and 80,000 residents were without electricity. Over 2,000 telephones were out. Roof's collapsed and thousand's of tree's had to be cleared from roads. No businesses opened for three day's. Airline's cancelled flights and trains were two days behind schedule.

  The storm began on January 29, and ended on February 1. Nashville went into a deep freeze until the thaw began on 5-February. Nashvillian's all decided to return to normal activity on the same day and cars clogged every road leading into Nashville causing what is still ranked as the worst traffic jam in Nashville history. Lines of traffic averaged 5 miles long. This was well before the interstates were built. Snow and ice did not completely melt until 12-February-1951. I always heard stories of how neighbors helped neighbors get through the experience. We lived in a duplex on Brookvale Terrace in West Nashville just off White Bridge Rd. Fortunately we were one of the few places that didn't lose our power and neighbors stayed with us. My dad's business partner, Mr. Kelly and his wife and kids also stayed with us. One of my favorite stories of that time was that I was very sick and running a high fever. Many doctor's did house calls back then but my mother, who was a nurse, couldn't get a doctor to venture out into the storm. Then she located a young pediatrician just setting up practice in Nashville named Dr. Koenig. He became my pediatrician and remained so for many years but he was always known for his bluntness. When he arrived the first words out of his mouth was "Okay, where is the little bastard"?

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