DENVER (CBS4) – On Dec. 1, 1913, one of the worst snow storms in Colorado history began taking shape.
Light snow began spreading into the mountains and eventually into the foothills and on the plains.
It lasted for a few days, but at the time, didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.
It hit in an era when weather forecasting was much different than it is today.
“The Denver Post and other newspapers ran a tiny weather section where they would tell you what happened the previous day and maybe give you a very vague forecast for the next day,” said B. Erin Cole, Assistant State Historian with History Colorado.
After a brief break on Dec. 3, the snow began to fall once again.
“The snow was very different than what we get in December. It was wet, it was heavy, but it wasn’t very cold,” said Cole.
The second round of snow fell with fury, piling up several feet across much of the area.
It was, and still is, the biggest snow storm ever recorded in Denver since we started keeping weather data in 1871.
The heavy, wet snow brought life to a screeching halt, including the nearly 200 miles of Denver’s street car system.
It took hundreds of men to dig the city out.
The weight of the snow collapsed a countless number of structures, leading to several changes in how we build along the Front Range.
As the storm wrapped up, people poured into the streets to start the process of cleaning up, but they also made time for some fun.
“In Denver, especially in the Capital Hill District and around the State Capitol, people organized skiing parties,” said Cole.
One of those people having some fun and teaching others how to ski was Karl Howelsen, a ski salesman from Norway.
Howelsen split his time between Denver and Routt County, where he helped organize the first-ever winter carnival in Steamboat Springs in February 1914.
Thanks to Howelsen and his passion for teaching others how to ski during the 1913 blizzard, he and the infamous storm are credited with helping get the ski industry started in Colorado.