I was the photographer who took the photo of the school closing
in 1972. It was most definitely staged. I intended to create a photograph
that told the story, so I grabbed a couple of "models", found
some snowshoes, made the note and took the photo.
I was proud of it and shocked at the controversy. News photos are actually
staged all the time (ever try to cash one of those giant checks?)
I was quite active with the Lode and Winter Carnival Magazine staff that
year. By spring quarter I was the Lode News and Photo Editor, so I though
the controversy had subsided. It was brought up again as one of the reasons
my application to be editor of the Lode the following year was rejected.
The other was that I'd been out of school for a couple of years. (I'd been
I remember having the day off when school was closed due to the
weather. I worked part time at the Copper Crown Motel in Hancock so I plowed
snow that day using an old tractor they had. It didn’t have a cab
and I got pretty cold. By the time I got the parking lot cleared it was
time to start all over again. Maybe that was one of the reasons I moved
to Tennessee when I got out of school.
With respect to the ‘da Tech’ having been closed due to weather
(this topic seems to get revisited every few years), the one that I experienced
was in November, 1966 (my sophomore year). Now classes were canceled on
the Monday after Thanksgiving break, not because the campus was snowed-in
but because so many students were not able to make it back to Houghton
on that Sunday. The problem was that the Eastern part of the U.P. and the
Northern part of L.P. were hit really hard with a very heavy and fast moving
snow storm which ended-up closing most of the roads West of the bridge.
I was lucky as I was riding with someone who decided to leave a bit earlier
than we originally planned and it turned out that that 30 minutes made
all the difference in the world.
We hit the heavy snow at the bridge and
once onto US-2, rather than going all the way down to M-77
and turning North through Germfask to get to M-28, we turned
North at Engadine and took M-117. On M-28, the snow really started to come
down but the guy I was riding with was driving what was already a Classic
Corvette (a 1953 or 54, the one with a 6 cylinder engine and wire mesh
over the headlights) and it had really good traction so we kept going,
however we did notice that we were virtually the only ones the road. In
fact, we never saw a single vehicle along the entire Seney-to-Shingleton
stretch and were actually ‘breaking
trail’ as the road was unplowed but the ‘snowplow markers’ along
the side of the road kept us on the ‘straight & narrow’.
As we got further West the snow started to let up and by the time we reached
Marquette it was nearly clear. We stopped at the Big Boy there on M-28
and when we asked about where everyone was, we were told that all the roads
had been closed back near the bridge (I can’t recall, but it’s
possible the bridge had been closed as well). Anyway, we finally made it
to school after about 10 hours on the road (the normal drive time from
Gaylord was usually 6 hours or so).
When I mentioned that leaving 30 minutes early made all the difference
I was referring to my brother (a freshman) who left 30 minutes after we
did with his ride and they didn’t get to Houghton until Wednesday.
They stayed on US -2 all the way to M-77 and got stuck somewhere south
of Germfask when a bus or big-rig skidded and blocked the road. The snowplows
couldn’t clear the road while the storm was still blowing so everyone
had to find local shelter. He and his car-mates ended up sleeping in some
restaurant/bar near where they had gotten stopped and they had to wait
a couple of days before the road was cleared.
As I recall, about an hour or so after classes would normally have started
on that Monday, a notice went out that classes were canceled
and that they would resume on Wednesday, or something like that. Anyway, I
think a few classes may have met but it was pretty quiet around there until
the laggards started to straggle in. I was an R. A. in Wadsworth that year
so I was sort of keeping an eye out for ‘my people’ as they ‘checked-in’.
John R. Baker, ‘71
The note about the Blizzard of '72 brought back memories. I
was on the ski
patrol at Mont Ripley and was the last patroller on the hill
before school closed. It was snowing so hard that you had fresh
every run, and that was when you could load the T-bar at the
the runs were really short. No way you could see your tracks
previous run. By the time I did sweep and put my skis away,
the parking lot
was empty and things were looking bad for thumbing a ride back
Luckily Coach Fred Lonsdorf had stayed a little longer at the
hill and came
along in is orange VW beetle and gave me a ride. I've only
seen it snow
that hard in the Colorado and Utah mountains. School was closed
day but chemical engineering professor Davis Hubbard rode his
The clip on Sauna beer reminded me that it was for sale at $0.99 for a
pack. I wasn't a beer drinker but the running joke was that
Sauna beer was "brewed from genuine sauna run-off water."
You might note that some faculty skied to work on that day,
while students in DHH , Coed and Wads couldn't figure out how to get
to class in Fisher. Must have been too far to go!!
This photo from winter 71-72 looks like it could be that storm.
It's another Jim Blevins '72 photo.
Was a freshman living on the third floor of West Wadsworth Hall (Keystone
House) at the time and can still remember how hard it snowed,
how cold it was (well below zero as I recall), and how the
wind blew. At times, it was nearly impossible to see the street lights
in front of Wadsworth Hall from the third floor windows and they were only
a few yards away at close to eye level! Also, many commuter students were
trapped on campus, some of whom had to stay with us in the dorms. I didn’t
think it possible to snow so hard for that length of time with
wind that strong at temperatures so far below zero until experiencing that
Class of 1973 – AAS EET
Class of 1975 – BS Business Administration
Tech closed for ½ day in the winter of 1978 due to snow. I believe
the 1978 snowfall ~ 370”. I was there.
Chemical Eng ‘81
Scot: Would you believe I spent the winter of 78-79 in
Detroit? I missed
the "best" ever. It was 380 inches. We just drove by the snow thermometer
Sunday. Pretty slow up north still: it's between snowmobiling and spring
Oh, Gosh. I was a freshman living in “East Co-ed Hall” (hardly
sexist) during the winter of ’72. I vividly remember the blizzard
because the parking lot lights 30’ from our window disappeared from
view for all the sideways snow. WHCU (or whatever the local radio station
was) immediately began calling themselves “Snow Control Central” and
answered incoming calls live on the air. We didn’t normally listen
because of the selection of “music” but that night it was hilarious
because of the many call-ins. The next day it was -20 or colder with a
25 mph wind still blowing. We went out to see the drifts and watched some
poor cabin-fevered goofball run from the end door of East Wads through
the snow to the West Wads end door – in his undershorts !!!
So many fond memories!!!
I was a sophomore at MTU in ’81-’82 and they closed one day during
that winter because of snow. I’m sure it was reported in the local rag,
but I can’t give you the date. After all, that’s 30 years ago!
I made the trip from the Detroit area to Tech in the early 70s in as little
as 9-1/2 hours up to as long as (as I recall) about 34 hours depending on
weather and assorted other issues…..Other issues included, dropping
the gas tank outside Christmas; blown water pump in Midland, and hitting
s snow drift across 41 just North of Baraga…
But crossing the bridge was usually OK except one occasion where we weren’t
sure the Bridge authority would let us cross due to the wind and poor visibility…but
they did, and as we started we almost turned around…as you say it was
a white knuckler!
We’re in Texas now and it’s hard to explain the UP down here…this
past summer we had over 60 days over 100F!
I was wondering about the ‘traditional’ snow ball fight between
Wads and DHH on the first snowfall…when did it start and how? I remember
my first snowball fight (and my last) I got murdered!
Pat Parker ‘75
Pat: I'd love to hear about the snowball fight, too. We've
never been able to figure out when and why it ended. Any alums recall?
Hi: By the way, there was over 300 inches of snow
recorded during the winter of 1949-1950. Remember as a kid the 1938 storm in
Ramsay Mich. Nothing moved for a week. Underground mines were shut down.
Yes, the MEEM building did look like that! I was there in 1972 and believe
that the photo is NOT staged. I lived on Shelden right where the road becomes
one way. I remember the snow coming down at the rate of 1 inch per hour for
at least 24 hours. The snow plows could not even keep Shelden plowed. I did
make my way the mile down to campus and found that the snow covered the entrances
to the MEEM building where I worked in the Biology department. No work, or
classes, that day!
Linda (Kemler) Toth
Class of 1974