DENVER (CBS4) –¬†The storm that hit during the first five days of December 1913 is still the biggest snowstorm ever recorded in Denver, since we started keeping weather data in 1871.

(credit: History Colorado)

(credit: History Colorado)

Light snow started falling on Dec.  1 and continued on Dec. 2. After a brief break on Dec. 3, the snow began to fall once again. The second round of snow fell with fury, piling up several feet across much of the area.

A blizzard in 1913 piled the snow high in Denver. (credit: Howard B. Gelt/Denver Public Library)

“The snow was very different than what we get in December. It was wet, it was heavy, but it wasn’t very cold,” B. Erin Cole, Assistant State Historian with History Colorado told CBS Denver.

The weight of the snow collapsed a countless number of structures, leading to several changes in how we build along the Front Range.

View of houses behind large snow drifts from a blizzard in Denver, Colorado, 1913. (credit: Denver Public Library)

The heavy, wet snow brought life to a screeching halt, including the nearly 200 miles of Denver’s street car system.

A street car blockaded at 16 and Welton Sts. Taken in the snowstorm the morning of Dec. 6, 1913. (credit: Denver Public Library)

It took hundreds of men to dig the city out. But some people managed to maintain their sense of humor, and posted signs reading”This pile of snow free to day help yourself plenty in stock,” “Keep Off the Grass,” and “It’s a Privilige [sic] To Live in Colorado.”

View of signs stuck in a snow pile from the 1913 blizzard in Denver, Colorado. (credit: Denver Public Library)

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.

The blizzard in 1913 piled the snow high in Denver, turning Eighth Avenue into a snow run for sledders. (credit: Howard B. Gelt/Denver Public Library)

“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.

As you’d expect, areas at higher elevations got even more snow — with Georgetown recording a whopping 86 inches.

View of a heavy snowfall on Sixth (6th, Alpine) Street in Georgetown, Colorado. The Spruance Building and Kneisel-Curtis-Seifeld building are on the south side of the street. Five men ride large horses; five men stand surrounded by piles of snow. (credit: Denver Public Library)

Fort Collins got nearly three feet of snow and Colorado Springs got just over two feet.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

 

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