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Let it snow!

Mother Nature was at it again on February 18-19, 1908. In the worst snowstorm in
nearly 25 years, up to 13 inches of snow fell, winds gusted up to 48 miles per hour, and
snow drifts grew to 6-12 feet high [1]. At Noon on Tuesday, February 18, just an inch and a
half of snow had fallen on the Chicago area [2]. The storm dropped twelve more inches in
some places over the next 24-hours across a 230-mile swath from Racine to south of
Peoria [3].

The snow downed electrical and telephone lines. Transportation nearly ground to a halt.
The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Railroad, which crossed through the south side of
Libertyville (North Shore Bike Trail), suspended operations due to impassable snow
drifts [4]. Passengers on the Wisconsin Central train line were stranded when trains could
go no further between Rockefeller (Mundelein) and Grayslake. Nearby farmers took in
passengers and crew members for the night. The newspaper reported that 250 men
worked fifteen hours overnight to clear the line. A rudimentary snow blower wasn’t
invented until the 1920s [5].

While the 1908 storm doesn’t crack the top ten Chicago snowfalls (14.9 inches in 1918
through 23 inches in 1967), it disrupted local life and proved significant enough for
someone to take this photograph [6].

Milwaukee Avenue looking north from Church Street
Courtesy of the Libertyville Historical Society

North Shore Gas, Dr. Golding’s dentist’s office, a millinery, and Lovell’s Drug Store were located on the east side of this block. Today’s Cook Park, then the Cook family’s front yard, is across the street. One block north is the Lake County Bank building, now home to the Picnic Basket.


1.”Worst Blizzard in Many Years.” Waukegan Daily Sun. February 19, 1908, p.1.

2. “Bad Outlook for Today.” Chicago Tribune, February 19, 1908. p.1; “Storm Drift the State Over by Exchanges.” Waukegan Daily Sun, February 20, 1908, p.5.

3. “Storm Drift the State Over by Exchanges: Waukegan Not Alone the Sufferer by the Biggest Storm in Years.” Waukegan Daily Sun, February 20, 1908, p.5.

4. “Four Hundred Wisconsin Central Passengers Stalled in Drifts.” Waukegan Daily Sun. February 19, 1908, p.1; “Big Snow Causes Milk Shortage: Traffic Country Over Paralyzed and Farmers Unable to get In.” Waukegan Daily Sun, February 20, 1908, p.1.

5. “Snow Blower.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. Accessed January 23, 2024.

6. CBS News. “Chicago Weather: The Top 10 Biggest Snowstorms In City History.” Accessed January 17, 2024.

Categories: Local History

Tags: Local History

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