Full Chisel Blog

December 19, 2008

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 10:08 am

But here in the train speeding along at 70 miles per hour, with a cup of the finest Amtrak coffin varnish, it is quite pleasant.  I awoke just before 6 am this morning after a short rest, the train actually left on time and despite the blizzard raging outside it looks like the train will arrive on time in Reno.

The lounge/observation car opens at 6:30 am and the attendant is a character named Johnny and I was first in line for coffee.  Having nearly completed my coffee, the train stops in Winnemucca for those of us that need to condition our lungs with fresh air or smoke.  It was snowing and the wind blowing at the stop.

Back aboard we ran into the brunt of the storm (do storms have anything other than brunts?) and the visibility was down to about 50 feet, but that doesn’t stop a train.  It cleared slightly, saw a sliver of blue sky then clouded up again and it is snowing as we speak.

I checked the local weather radar and it looks like the storm is behind us. 

This got me thinking about what the California bound emigrants when through traveling this time of year.  But then of course most of them were smart enough not to travel through the Sierra Nevada mountains during the winter months.  One unfortunate group was the Donner-Reed party that set out too late in 1846 and didn’t make it over the mountains before an early snow storm stopped them near Donner Lake.

But some folks did need to travel in these conditions and of course that would have been difficult.  Even during good times the trip was arduous, hard on man and beast.



  1. Thanks for the visual, Stephen. Nice post. Would love to see some photos.

    Comment by The Village Carpenter — December 19, 2008 @ 3:25 pm

  2. Visuals will have to do for now. Last night it was about 22 degrees (F) with a 10 to 15 mph wind from the North, it was cold but I stood my watch for a bit over three hours. I was dressed for the conditions; silk, wool, linen and cotton, leather shoes. Later on the train this was way too much clothing, but in layers it was easy to remove. It was in the 30’s when I arrived, the wind blowing but clear blue skies.

    Well this afternoon I could only stand about 30 minutes in a 101 degree (F) hot tub. Going from cold in my bones to not in less than 24 hours was enjoyable. My Mother’s side of the family are Johnsons from the North Country, so after a nice hot shower, I turn the water to cold to finish. I think it is good for the body. This may be too much information.

    And today after the experience in the hot springs (yes the pioneers enjoyed natural hot springs out here in the West) I enjoyed the cool temperature and Easterly breeze. I am also enjoying the local beverages.

    There are reports of people in winter storms surviving by staying in or near hot springs until weather improved. There is no evidence that alcohol helps in cold conditions, but there isn’t any evidence to the contrary. Continuing careful analysis.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — December 19, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

  3. Well, it is the 50’s here in Rocklin California. Visiting my neices and sister that choose to dwell here in these mild climates. I will be experiencing the local hot springs (photos to follow) with palm trees in the background. There is something very wrong with this picture. I am also suffering from oxygen prevation as the altitude is about 150 feet above mean sea level, the additional oxygen is intoxicating.

    I will be visiting a couple of museums in Reno, the Automobile museum which I should and will visit but isn’t high on my priority list but will be an addition to my list. Also a couple of others and the gratuitious visit to Virginia City, a museum in itself and the local Salon ‘Bucket of Blood’.

    Well there is someone next door to my nieces house mowing their lawn, there is something wrong with this picture.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — December 20, 2008 @ 4:36 pm

  4. Stephen,

    Every interesting in story telling.

    I’m admirable of the people that can story tell or even give information in a matter of a story.

    Very good Visual I would have to agree…


    Comment by Handi — December 21, 2008 @ 10:28 am

  5. Used to be (ca. 1973) a 2 ga. shotgun in the museum in Carson City, or maybe Virginia City. Was used for flock hunting. Had a pretty impressive list of single-shot kills.

    Didn’t mow the lawn today here. Snow and drifting.


    Comment by Ken Pollard — December 21, 2008 @ 9:03 pm

  6. Handi,

    I always enjoy a good story. Thanks.


    I have seen that shotgun, I would imagine it packs a wallop, I don’t think they allow market guns anymore?


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — December 22, 2008 @ 6:45 am

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