FROM PAGES PAST: 1971: Blizzard accompanied by thunder & lightning, gale winds

Staff reports
The Chronicle-Express

The Chronicle-Express: Consolidation, Jan. 1, 1926, of the Yates County Chronicle (1824) and the Penn Yan Express (1866); the Rushville Chronicle (1905) and the Gorham New Age (1902)

The Yates County History Center’s volunteers have gleaned these entries for your enjoyment from their digitized newspapers. You can access them at the free site For more information about the YCHC, visit

150 Years Ago

Feb. 2, 1871

French Empire Falls to Germans: The Great War between France and Germany has reached a crisis. Paris has capitulated, and an armistice has been agreed upon. France is to elect a National Assembly on the 8th of February. This is, no doubt the prelude of peace. At least so much is to be hoped. The war has prostrated France completely at the feet of Germany. It has been almost a perpetual recurrence of disasters to the French cause from beginning to end. If this woeful discipline has predisposed France to accept the Republic, it will perhaps have all been for the best. If they ingloriously sink back to the Empire the prospect for the future will be gloomy enough, for a people susceptible of the high accomplishments that France is capable of. But of all results we hope this tremendous and unmerciful war will be the last of this century or any of the centuries that come after. Let the nations learn the arts of peace and practice war no more.

Soldiers To Receive Land In New Bill: The soldiers’ bounty bill, passed by the House yesterday, provides that every soldier, seaman, marine and officer of the army or navy, who served 90 days during the recent rebellion, was honorably discharged, and has since continued loyal, may be entitled to one hundred and sixty acres of land under the existing homestead laws. The recipient is allowed twelve months more than his term of service or enlistment in which to make an actual settlement and commence his improvements on the lands, or may assign his certificate to any United States citizen who has declared his intention to become an actual settler and who has not previously availed himself of the provisions of the homestead or the pre-emption laws. An actual residence of two years by the settler or his assignee, except pensioners, is, however, required before a title will be issued, and unmarried widows and minor orphan children of soldiers and sailors, are included in the provisions of the act.

100 Years Ago

Feb. 2, 1921

Hoover Life Saving Stations - Churches and Schools at Work for the Starving Children in Europe and China: Every grade in the public schools of Penn Yan is working to make its room a life saving station, and it looks as if our children would raise enough money to keep a number of the European children alive until the next harvest. Cannot the rural schools throughout the county join in this plan so that every school in the county may become a life saving station? To give something—no stated amount— toward the national collection for suffering children of Europe is all that is required, and upon receipt of such a gift a poster will be sent to indicate that the school is a Hoover Life Saving Station. Contributions for this fund should be sent to Louise P. Sheppard, chairman for Yates County.

Water from Lake Keuka Outlet to Furnish Light, Heat and Give Power to Surrounding Country: The Yates Electric Light and Power Company are gradually expanding and will soon be able to furnish electricity to all towns in Yates county not now having plants of their own. The Taylor Chemical Company with its plant at the Cascade Mills was the original unit in furnishing electric power. Later this growing company absorbed the Seneca Mill, which has been furnishing power for many Penn Yan users, both for light and power, under the name of Yates Electric Light and Power Company. The Taylor Chemical Company practically owns all the water rights on Lake Keuka outlet between Seneca Mill and Seneca Lake. Already plans are developing to generate more power from the May’s Mill dam and from the dam at Dresden. These units when united will furnish several hundred more horsepower than can be developed from the Seneca Mill plant alone. Already the village of Dresden is getting ready to use this electricity for power and light. A line is under construction to Dundee, when the electricity generated on the outlet will light, heat or furnish power for that village.

50 Years Ago

Feb. 4, 1971

Boy Dies After Snowplow-Bus Crash: Jeffrey Bounds, 6-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Bounds of Middlesex, RD 1, died Monday night at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester of injuries suffered last Tuesday when the school bus he was on was struck by a Town of Potter snowplow near the village of Rushville. The mishap occurred about 2:30 p.m. on snow-covered Route 254, about a half mile south of Rushville. The Bounds tot was rushed to Canandaigua hospital, then transferred immediately to Rochester. He suffered extensive head injuries, and was in critical condition and in an unconscious state. Ten other students and the bus driver were injured in the crash. The plow, a Town of Potter truck, was driven by Harold Conley, 54, of Branchport, and according to police, the wing plow struck a patch of hard packed ice and snow along the road, causing the truck to swing into the path of the bus, striking the bus on the driver’s side at the front.

NYSEG Rate Hike - Proposed new rate schedules that would increase natural gas rates of residential, commercial and industrial customers were filed with the New York State Public Service Commission this week by New York State Electric & Gas Corp. Warren C. Herrick, North Central Area manager for NYSE&G, said the effect of the new rates would vary, according to the individual customer's use of gas. He indicated that the average residential heating customer in the Penn Yan and Geneva area would see an increase of about $1.70 per month on an annual basis. The average residential non-heating customer would have increases of about 70c per month on an annual basis. Mr. Herrick said the company estimated that the proposed new rates would provide an overall annual increase of about $3,375,600, or about eight percent, in company revenues based on sales in the 12 months ended September 30,1970. NYSE&G has not changed its gas rates locally since 1961. The only adjustments since then have reflected downward and upward changes in the price of gas which NYSE&G buys.

"Blizzard Of ’71” - Tuesday, January 26, began in Dundee much like any average January day, but before noon the sky suddenly darkened, there was a brief power failure, then the snow swept in from the west in an angry squall. During this flurry folks were amazed to hear the rumble of thunder, accompanied by some flashes of lightning. These unseasonal occurrences were to be the forerunner of a major winter storm, probably to be referred to as the “Blizzard of 71.” Within a very few hours the winds increased and hurled the drifting snow into fast moving screens of impenetrable white shrouds. Dundee school buses left early on their home-bound runs as the wind velocity increased and visibility dropped to near zero. The temperature slid downward and by nightfall was nudging zero. The storm’s fury grew during the night, tearing off barn siding and unroofing small buildings. This old farm house shook and quivered during the wild night. Windows clattered. Travel on Route 14-A ceased entirely. Morning of January 27 dawned, a wild, gale-ridden scene. Heavily frosted windows disclosed a desolate view of swirling masses of jet-propelled snow that defied the headlights of a few venturesome cars and trucks. The thermometer crept up only a few degrees above zero. The Sheriff’s Department broadcast warning, closing all Yates County roads to all but emergency travel. School closings and postponements of events came crackling over the radio. Most local residents took a quick inventory of supplies and foodstuffs, facing a weather warning that chaotic conditions would continue for at least another 24 hours.

The “Blizzard of ’71” raged for three days, closed all roads in the county, and included “snow thunder” and gale force winds that damaged buildings.