The terrible winter of 1889

Dec 11, 2019 557

BY: Dennis Cassinelli

About the time my great-grandfather, Pietro Cassinelli, came to Dayton about 1888, one of the most severe winters in recorded history settled upon the land. After leaving the sunny fields of Tuscany, he and a few relatives settled in the Dayton Valley with the intent to grow crops and livestock for the markets of the Comstock.

Snowfall was early and heavy in December 1889, and Nevada stockmen were jubilant at the end of a long dry spell. The snow continued to fall, and by mid-January train service at all Nevada points came to a standstill. From Wyoming west, the country was in the grip of a disastrous winter. Sheep and cattle starved and froze. Trains were stalled and the Sierras were blocked, as fires in the Donner snow sheds had left the tracks exposed to the drifting snow.

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