Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian. This column originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter. The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.
It was the storm of all storms, the kind of snow we had never seen before. I must admit I love snow. I think it comes from growing up in Chicago. Our family lived across from an old abandoned mushroom farm. The building, covered in dirt, was the perfect hill for sledding. Waxing the old American Flyer with a scrap of soap, I could always beat the other kids on the hill. Now as an aging adult, I still like winter.
But the winter storm of January 26 & 27, 1967 was more snow than I could remember. It’s the 45th anniversary of that powerful and frightening storm. My husband and I had moved to Hoffman Estates in 65 and in 67 we had 3 small children. On Thursday morning with a little snow on the ground, my husband went off to work as usual. It wasn’t until later that they predicted heavier snow for the afternoon. I went out with the kids to make a snowman and it didn’t take long to realize that I’d have hard work ahead to keep the driveway clear for my husband.
I began to worry about my husband’s trip home. He worked in Des Plaines and came down Higgins. There were no cell phones then. No way to find out where he was. We all had young families and hoped our husbands would make it home through the storm. Much of the area was still open farmland and highway travel could be dangerous.
Many of them did make it home one way or another. Mine did. After pleading with the state police, who were about to close Higgins Rd. west of Arlington Heights Rd., my husband was the last car allowed to drive through the forest preserve. When he safely arrived at Rt. 53 the police were glad to see he made it through, wishing him well on the rest of his drive to Hoffman Estates. Once Higgins Rd. was closed, the bowling alley at Arlington Heights and Higgins Rd. offered many of the motorists a place to sleep until the road could be opened again. That didn’t happen for several days.
We all tried to help one another. If you had a snow blower, you helped anyone who needed it. The snow was falling so fast that we went to bed exhausted hoping to shovel out in the morning. We awoke to a very white and quiet world. Everything was buried in snow. The snow drifts were so high we couldn’t get out the back door but we made it out the front door to survey the unbelievable scene.
The official snowfall for Jan. 26 was 16.4 in. and another 6.6 in. on Jan. 27for a total of 23 in. Winds were 20/30 mph. with gusts up to 50 mph. Over the next 3 days we saw every kind of equipment trying to clear the snow from Golf and Higgins Rd. The drifts were like small mountains. My oldest daughter and I took our sled to the A&P that was at Golf & Highland Blvd., Binney’s Liquors is located there. The manager never made it home so we were able to load the sled with milk, bread and anything else we needed. With a plastic drop cloth and some rope, we tied down the special cargo and headed back over the mountains of snow. I’ll never forget that storm.
Ken Gomoll, Asst. Director of Public Works, remembers the winter of 78-79 when we had a total of 83.7 inches of snow. That was a tough year for Public Works but they’re always ready for whatever comes our way. Let’s hope the winter of 2012 will be kind to us. Happy New Year everyone!
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
Thanks to Pat, the photos are of the Barch house after the snowfall of 1967.