Powder River Examiner -

70 Years Ago

From the Examiner Files


March 11, 1949

Moving of Huge Tonnage of Hay and Feed by Truck Convoy Saved the Lives of Many Cattle that Were out of Feed

“Operation Snowlift” in Powder River County came to a successful end last week with the arrival of moderate weather over the previous weekend. H.L. Whiting, chairman of the board of county commissioners, Claude Davis of Miles City, district engineer for the Montana Highway department and Tom Dudley of Miles City, district grazier with the bureau of land management, directed the snow removal operation in this county.

While the benefits of the snow removal are known to the individual rancher and while the benefits can in many instances be measured in dollars and cents, untold benefits in the saving of the lives of cattle and in the relief of human misery are the unmeasured results in this fine cooperative effort.

After the job has been finished Tom Dudley reports that the bureau of land management spent $13,190.00 in this area during the snow removal operation. This federal agency had the following dirt moving equipment at work throughout the emergency: 2 tractractors and bulldozers belonging to Al Pikkula, a tractractor and bulldozer belonging to Harold Liming and 1 caterpillar and bulldozer belonging to Jurica Bros. of Powderville.

The state highway department using their own equipment and operating mostly in the southwest portion of the county spent $1,300.00 according to Claude Davis.

Powder River county using 2 outfits all of the time and a fourth unit half the time spent between $5,000 and $6,000 in the snow removal operation, H.L. Whiting said. The units worked around the clock once they left the headquarters at Broadus. Operators had the machines going 24 hours a day and much praise is due to the operators of all the snow removal machinery for their tireless effort in opening the snowbound roads. Below zero thermometer readings were the rule but the machinery kept going at all times in spite of the weather.

Known results of the snow removal operation can be gained from the tonnage hauled by the truck convoys as they followed the snow removal equipment into the county. There were 296 tons of coal hauled by the convoys, 432 tons of hay, 577 tons of cake and grain, 10 tons of salt and unmeasured quantities of groceries.

Oil trucks were in each convoy following the snow plows and it is not known the quantity of fuel oil that was hauled to the ranches, however, it was sorely needed.

There were 1,150 head of cattle that were hauled to market behind the snow plows. There were 4,200 head of sheep that were moved to feed. There were two cases of sickness that were removed to hospitals after the snow plows cleared the roads.

Cold weather and improper diet brought on an epidemic of coccidiosis among cattle during the emergency. Many head died as a result of the disease by many were saved by the quick treatment with the proper medicine after roads had been opened so that the rancher could get to town and secure the medicine.

While the cost of the snow plow operation has been estimated to be $20,000, it is believed that many times that amount was saved to the ranchers by the operation of the snow plows.


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