Monday, November 22, 2010

Icepocalypse Now

by Nancy DeWitt
Photos and text © Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

Most of Alaska is experiencing the mother of all ice storms right now, thanks to an epoch winter rain event that has essentially shut down Fairbanks and brought great joy to the towing companies. My attempt to drive to work this morning was similar to that of a friend who said, "My truck did a 180 at the bottom of the hill. Since I was then pointed home,  I continued that way." I too tucked my tail and returned home. Fortunately, I have a lot of historic photos here to keep me occupied. For your viewing pleasure, here are some ways Alaskans dealt with driving on snow in the early days:

At right is Bobbie Sheldon with passengers on the trail to Valdez. Sheldon cut down the axles of his Model T Fords so his tires would fit in the tracks of the horse-drawn sleighs. He also wrapped chains around the rear tires and put skis under the front ones.

Sheldon mounted a gas tank on the hood to maintain fuel flow to the engine while going up steep hills. It wasn't uncommon for drivers in those days to have to go up hills backwards because of the rear-mounted gas tanks.

I have no idea what this is...

...but these tracked vehicles look more familiar:

I think my favorite winterized rig is this motorcycle decked out with outrigger skis. I'm guessing it wouldn't have worked too well on today's icy roads, though. Nor would the Fordson Snow Motor we have parked outside the museum. Based on news reports, no vehicles are working too well today. Funny how we Alaskans don't let heavy snowfall or -55 F temperatures get in our way, but a little rainfall brings us to our knees!

Photos courtesy of Frances Erickson, Candy Waugaman and Nick Nugent. May not be reproduced without permission.

1 comment:

  1. Is it possible to purchase a high resolution scan of one of these photos and if so what is the procedure ? Thanks.


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