In February 1936, southern Wisconsin endured a series of snowstorms followed by subzero temperatures and high winds.
Across Rock County, road and railroad crews struggled to plow through 12- to 15-foot-high drifts.
“Heroic efforts since Saturday night restored several main highways to something like normal traffic conditions, but some of the principal roads and nearly all of the secondary roads remain blocked,” The Janesville Gazette reported after the first round of snow.
Highway 14 was closed between Janesville and Evansville.
“A heavy tractor snowplow left Evansville at 11 p.m. Sunday, and at 12:20 p.m. Monday had not been sighted in Leyden. Immense drifts formed on this road, but progress was slower than expected,” The Gazette reported.
The weekend storm was the “worst within memory of veteran railroad men here, there being no Sunday trains on the Milwaukee Road.”
A passenger train to Fond du Lac left the downtown Janesville station and made it as far as the Rock County Farm, which once was located by the existing Rock County Jail.
A crew of 30 men was sent to shovel out the train. They managed to get everything unstuck except for the steam locomotive. The passenger cars were pulled back to Janesville.
The city’s three main employers—Chevrolet, Fisher and Parker Pen—closed because of a lack of coal.
“The present snow, it is believed, rivals the famous winter of 1881,” The Gazette reported.