On January 12, 1888, an unexpected blizzard rushed across the American Northwest. The storm arrived on a relatively warm day and many people were unprepared when the temperature plunged that afternoon. Under the headline, “Midnight at Noon,” the Boston Daily Advertiser reported:
At Fargo…mercury 47’ below zero and a hurricane blowing….At Neche, Dak. the thermometer is 58’ below zero.
Reports in Early American Newspapers include many accounts of adults and children caught in the lethal blizzard. Although relatively few of its victims were schoolchildren, the historic event is now commonly referred to as the Schoolhouse or Schoolchildren’s Blizzard. The plight of schoolchildren was an immediate focus of the reporting. On Jan. 13, the Duluth Daily News wrote:
“The storm came up suddenly and it is feared that many school children who were out on the prairie are lost. Whistles were kept blowing all day as signals to the unfortunates.”
On the same day, the Boston Daily Journal added more details: