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Big Snow of November 1950 - Lawrence County PA

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On the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 1950, it started snowing all across Lawrence County – and it did so for the next thirty hours! By Saturday morning thirty-three inches of snow had fallen in New Castle and high winds resulted in blizzard like conditions. The storm, known as the Great Appalachian Storm of 1950, brought endless snow and hurricane force winds and came without warning. It affected twenty-two states, killed over 250 people (23 in Pennsylvania), and caused $66.7 million in damage. Downtown New Castle (shown above) was shutdown to traffic for over five days and hotels and other places of refuge quickly filled up during the emergency. (1950) Full Size

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Ellwood City (shown above) was fortunate as civic leader R. J. “Denny” Schill was able to use his clout and secure some heavy equipment, then parked in Koppel, that was being used to extend the PA Turnpike. Ellwood City also recorded thirty-three inches of snowfall and came to a virtual standstill. With so many roads blocked Ellwood City and other locations in Lawrence County were extremely lucky no fires took place in the week after Thanksgiving. It was well over a week before most city roads were cleared, but many rural areas were blocked in for some time. (1950) Full Size

Work crews clear snow from Mercer Street in downtown New Castle. (1950) Full Size

A typical driveway in New Castle following the big storm of late November 1950. (1950) Full Size

A snowed in work truck of the Kleen Rite Dry Cleaners, located at #425 East Long Avenue. (1950) Full Size



  1. I remember this very well. We lived on the road between Mt Jackson and Edenberg. We had gone to my grandmother’s on E Washington St. for Thanksgiving. My cousin Connie and I talked our parents into letting me stay for the week end. I didn’t get home for a week. We had a blast sled riding down Washington St.,
    right past the court house.

    Margaret Stevenson Rutherford · 03/12/2013 09:51 PM · #

  2. At the time, I was 7 years old and living in Pittsburgh. We had gone to visit my maternal grandparents, Tony and Olive Grist, for Thanksgiving. They lived in Hillsville. Of course, we got snowed in and ended up staying for a week.

    Robert J. Arena · 07/22/2013 09:47 AM · #

  3. I remember it because we had cows which had to be milked. We shoveled for what seemed forever to make a path to the barn. The snow seemed as high as the skyscrapers of New York.

    susan owens · 07/29/2013 01:20 PM · #

  4. I lived in New Wilmington at the time and remember it well. I was 5 and half years old! I woke my parents Saturday morning to the sounds of a bull dozier on Waugh avenue.

    Tunnels and lots of shoveling were on tap for several days!!

    dave · 12/13/2013 07:58 PM · #

  5. ps if any of you have old photos of that snow I’d really enjoy viewing them. Thanks

    dave · 12/13/2013 08:00 PM · #

  6. My 7th birthday was on 11/26/50 and I wanted an Army knapsack as a present. I remember well hiking from our home on Milton St to the Army/Navy store on East Washington St with my dad and older brother in order to get my present.

    Gary Smith · 12/25/2013 01:10 PM · #

  7. I remember watching out my bedroom apartment window as the snow piled up on the round steel pole holding the Tasty Bite Restaurant sign. As it got up to about 10 inches it would blow over. I wanted to see how high it would stack up and was worried that I wouldn’t see it stack up that high again. Wrong, it did it several times and in the morning it seems it was stacked on the pole about 15 inches high. The pole was only about 3 inches in diameter.

    I decide to make some money shoveling snow and on the second day a Lady hired me to do her sidewalk on the corner of Jefferson St. and Lincoln Ave. I shoveled all day and did her front walk on Lincoln Ave. and the side walk on Jefferson St. When done I went to get paid and no one was home. l went back the next day and the Lady asked how much she owed me. I said $10.00 for 10 hours. She said that’s mans wages. I said ma’am, that’s mans work. She paid me reluctantly. I couldn’t shovel anymore after her job because I strained my back muscles and couldn’t lift the snow.

    I also remember how quiet the city was. Not a car running, nothing but 40 inches of snow. I walked in the middle of the street in wonderment at our great fortune to have this grand white deep blanket over the entire city. I loved it!!!

    Ron Kahrer · 01/09/2014 12:11 AM · #

  8. I Remember it well, My dad & I drove back from Visiting relatives in Buffalo, New York
    …I remember saying we are getting home with Wings & a prayer..driving til we got to New Castle…My dad stopped at this corner gas station about a block away from where my Grandma lived (Superior St) told me to wait in the station here while he got gas and the snow was oh my so High anyway he never came back to get to me….I walked in that high snow to my Grandmothers house….He went on to Ellwood City and never came back to pick me up until a week later…..couldn’t get back. I missed being with my friends in Ellwood, but I had aunts and uncle closed to my age and it wasn’t that bad being there!!

    Rose Fritzman · 01/09/2014 12:16 PM · #

  9. I remember this snow very well. Our little dog was caught about 100 yards from our house in a huge snow drift. My brothers had to dig a path to him. The men and boys shoveled a path down Harding St. to Croton Ave. I have the video of the Big Snow of 1950 and it shows the trucks hauling the snow from the down town streets, cars buried, and huge snow drifts.

    Joan Foster Porter Class of 55 · 01/09/2014 12:54 PM · #

  10. (EDITOR’S NOTE) All the stories are fantastic. It must have really been something in New Castle back then! Jeff

    Jeff Bales Jr · 01/09/2014 01:45 PM · #

  11. I pulled my car out of the garage at 430 am & it just started to snow. I lived in New Castle but worked at the B&O RR Passenger station in Youngstown Ohio. It never quit snowing for three days little did I know I would be working 54 hours non stop. I was so worn out I was sick for two days. Harry L> Banks

    Harry Banks · 01/11/2014 06:11 PM · #

  12. I had just turned ten.The Home Street “gang” mobilized to clear a path from Mill Street and S. Mercer st to free up the then New Castle Hospital.
    Snow drifted up on our back porch to my sister’s bedroom to about 10 feet!!What fun.

    Mickey Esposito · 01/31/2014 03:56 PM · #

  13. I was four. There was a photo of me standing up and the snow was about as high as I was. Unfortunately, the photo is lost. I was living in downtown Beaver Falls at the time.

    Randall Tenor · 03/20/2014 12:03 AM · #

  14. I was looking through some of the old photos of my grandparents, and I found a few photos that was taken in the 1950 snow storm. My mother is a young girl in the photo, and with a few neighbor children. They are standing in front of 526 Electric St. in New Castle, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, USA. If you would like a copy of this photo for your web page just ask me for it in an email at: bradhallsr@comcast.net

    Bradley W Hall Sr · 04/08/2014 12:24 PM · #

  15. I remember the storm. I was 5 years old. We lived on Dewey Ave in the Croton area. What I remember is wanting to go out side and I was told to stay on the porch but I wanted to play in the snow and I sunk in the snow. It was scary. I then watched my father(Tony Aven) my uncles, Sam, Harry, and Paul Aven dig out the alley behind us to get to Croton Ave. That Alley is not there anymore. We lived across the street from the church there on Dewey ave.

    Rosemary Aven · 05/26/2014 10:03 PM · #

  16. Helped haul the snow from down town .At that time we dumped it all in the River. .

    Ben. Fennick · 05/29/2014 03:17 AM · #

  17. I was 5 at the time, living is what was called the Flats in those days. Did not have inside water so we got our water from an outside community water pump. I remember going with my dad to get water, and being only five the path to the pump was way over my head. It was like walking between two very high walls. Funny how you remember things like this from your youth.

    Dale Kline · 06/19/2014 05:19 PM · #

  18. My Dad and I had to park our car on Long Ave and leave it there for two days, while we walked up Moravia St. to Sheep’s Hill to get home. I was six years old and the snow seemed to be as high as Mount Everest. Thank God that we lived through it!!

    Harvey Theiss · 08/18/2014 03:08 PM · #

  19. When I was a cild i use to live in New Castle and I have a lot of relatives that still live there. I miss that pretty town. Hope to see it soon this summer of 2015 or spring of 2015 nothing is like home.

    Terry Spalding · 12/12/2014 03:48 PM · #

  20. My Grand mother and my mother told us about this snow storm of 1950.my gran mother lived up on 111 Milton St.

    Terry Spalding · 12/14/2014 10:41 AM · #

  21. I was 8 in 1950 and lived in Union Twp. My cousins and I played “Fox & Geese” on Thursday evening as the snow began. My Dad worked in Youngstown and had a time getting home. The next day was a wonder for an 8 year old. The snow was as deep as I was tall. My Dad, 2 uncles and a neighbor took a sled and walked more than a half mile to a neighborhood store. They took turns “breaking trail” and it took them from early morning to early evening to make the trip to and from the store. The store was operated by Mr. Martin later of Parkstown “fame”. The Martin family thankfully lived above the store and were able to be there for anyone able to get there.

    Paul Macom · 02/03/2015 12:42 PM · #

  22. The year of the big snow I lived next door to my best friend at the time Patty Bales. (any relation) Her cousin Deeann had come from Youngstown for Thanksgiving ,and got stuck for a week. We had the best time. Maybe the best time of my life. We lived on Dewey Ave about half way up the block from Haus Ave. Dewey Ave. Hill seemed so high

    l price · 02/05/2015 12:21 AM · #

  23. I remember growing up and being told I was born during the great snow storm in Lawrence County. 12/1/1950. My mother showed me different pictures of that time and I guess that is why I love snow so much. I visit New Castle often.

    Arlene Gilmore Dando · 02/14/2015 03:23 PM · #

  24. I was born in 1950 – My mother has told me about this snow and how she was not able to get me milk. They snow was above our windows. I always heard about the snow of 1950 growing up.

    Cathy Dewberry · 04/29/2015 12:53 PM · #

  25. I think we all remember that Big Snow of 1950! I must have been in the 7th grade at the time.
    We lived at the top of the hill, south of town abt. a mile and Dad w/his knap sack started out for the A.and P. grocery store downtown, so we would have groceries to eat.

    It was my job to get the gallon of milk from Gwins farm in N. Beaver Twp. So, without questioning father, I too bundled up and began walking to the farm. Gwins had large farm equipment, so they cleared out from their home to the barn and up a little, and there was just a path for one person to walk through. It was as high as I was tall! However, I made it to the farm and got the full pail of milk and made it back home in one piece, safe and sound! The children in the neighborhood were all very happy that they didn’t have school! We remember it like yesterday… Just wish we had pictures of that white stuff!!

    Louise O'Neil Cook · 08/29/2015 04:17 PM · #

  26. I was 14 in 1950 and we lived on Turkey Hill in Shenango Twp. We were snowed in for a week before a bulldozer finally got thru to us. Thank god we were totally self sufficient. I remember the first order of business was shoveling paths to the barn, chicken coop, hog pen and the outhouse. After that it was a piece of cake. All that was left was making sure the animals were fed and watered and the cows were milked. After we got plowed out it turned out to be the best winter of my childhood. We lived close to Fletcher Hill Rd. and the snow stayed on that hill the rest of the winter. I had an old Yankee Clipper sled that was the fastest on the hill that year. I remember missing the turn just above Harry Stein’s and coming up over the hill and down on to Harry porch and knocking the door of the hinges and landing in Harry’s kitchen. Harry was a bit upset over that, but we took care of the damage and he forgave us. The rest of the winter we were on that hill after our chores were taken care of. That winter was the only “snow days” I can remember the whole time I went to school.

    Richard J. Harvey · 01/17/2016 12:08 PM · #

  27. I was 12, a 5th grader at North Street Elementary living in The Winters Apartments on East Street a block from the school. I recall it started snowing on Thanksgiving evening with reports coming in on WKST radio about conditions around town. One that stuck with me was a manhole cover being reported missing on a street on North Hill. On Saturday I went out and got stuck in a snow drift that was against the steps of the school. I had went up the steps and thought it would be fun to jump into the drift. It came up to my chest making it almost impossible to get out. Being close to the railing of the steps I was eventually able to pull myself out using the railing.
    On Saturday night my mother got sick and had to be taken to the hospital and us children was taken to the Margaret Henry home for children. I and my brothers and sister spent the next five days in the home thus we did not really get to enjoy the snow as we were forbidden to go out while at the home. This visit to the home did not go well for else. That is another story that I will not go into.

    Wayne Schneider · 01/26/2016 03:29 PM · #

  28. Having been born in May just prior, I was 6 months old. My half-brother, Wayne, above. Of course I do not remember any of this, and have no idea what happened to our mother and our family at the time. I had 2 other half-brothers and half-sister at the time. This post mentions them. No mention of me! I was the other “sister” and only a baby. So wonder what happened to me? I did grow up with my mother and a step-father.

    Dianne Busch (Russo) · 01/27/2016 11:08 AM · #


    MARY ELAINE FALLAT · 11/27/2016 07:10 PM · #

  30. Regarding the boats for hire on the Lake: Neighborhood “urban legend” recalls that some time after or during the Great Depression, a former employee of the park “liberated” the steel hulled speedboat from the park. The story’s truthfulness is supported by careful research into the boat’s origin as being from a factory in Emlenton, Pa. The boat was allegedly used by residents of the community for many years and refurbished and enjoyed well into the 2000’s and then sold to an unknown party in Ohio.

    ed Leszek · 12/23/2016 04:27 PM · #

  31. I was working night shift at Priors in Portersville. My brother Howard was to report for induction. That got delayed 3 weeks.
    When we got milk tankers rolling, finally, I had to cal Mayor Lawrence (later Governor) and tell him where to have a plow meet yhr truck & about what time. He had given orders that -if I called, put me thru. Pretty heady ‘power’ for an 18 year old. My parents lived in Grant City, but had no phone, so I couldn’t check on them for several days

    George R Dean · 09/12/2017 04:08 PM · #

  32. I remember the big snow real well.

    We lived on West Washington St. Extension
    when we woke up it was a winter wonder land the big snow had fallen never forget that scene.

    But then we remembered that our dog just had pups and they were down in the garage/barn my nephew and I had to trudge thru all that snow to get to them no easy trick for 2 kids who had lost a leg apiece in 1946 , but our teacher at the time Mrs. Tinsman called us her little soldiers cause we would make it to school when other kids wouldn’t.

    Sandy Bishop at the time · 01/21/2019 06:26 PM · #

  33. The big snow! My grandparents had TG dinner w/us and left to ride the bus home. I waved out the living room window as they were leaving and it was starting to snow. Daddy was a fireman and had pulled emergency duty.

    Holly Monroe · 03/04/2019 11:55 AM · #

  34. I came to your site looking around because I had many moons ago relatives from Wampum/New Castle area.

    Anyway… I just had to take a moment to compliment you on your web page. I especially enjoyed reading all the comments about the big snow storm. Some stories were intriguing that I wanted to know more. Like the 2 kids who had each lost a leg. And the Wayne Schneider story.

    I also enjoy all the photos and the details you supply. Always searching for that name “Butler” as that is my ancestry. Perhaps I will mention your work to our local historical society that they take a peek at your work – that’s how impressed I am!

    Job well done!

    pat brey · 06/01/2019 10:41 PM · #

  35. I graduated class of 1952 , great to hear all these stories !!

    Gene Sheldon · 02/23/2020 04:25 AM · #

  36. It was the 1st semester of my senior year at NeCaHi. We missed more than one week of school. I shoveled the sidewalks for several of my neighbors, but I couldn’t keep up with the steady snow fall. I gave up after several hours of back breaking labor. I really enjoy this web site. It brings back so many pleasant memories.

    Walter Polanskey · 03/15/2020 10:19 PM · #

  37. I remember it well. I lived in Ellwood and was15 . Tha amazing part to me was how all thr neighbors dug th snow out to the street then dug down to the next neighbor and so on. We were able to get around to a couple of stores and to each other that way. Can’t imagine what it must have been like in the country

    Donna Russell · 04/02/2020 05:34 PM · #

  38. I too remember the snow. I lived in Bessemer and between the Limestone Co, brickyards and general contractors we weren’t snowed in. Some of my friends and I shoveled driveways and sidewalks and I remember making about $25 for the day. I was 14 years old.

    Bob Donaldson

    Bob Donaldson · 04/13/2020 02:49 PM · #

  39. My grandparents, Bill Snyder/Geraldine Fee, were supposed to be married that weekend, but had to postpone until December 2nd.

    Amy Snyder · 12/06/2020 12:06 PM · #