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12:47 PM Sat, Jan. 19th

Yesteryear: Winter storms set a record, claimed two lives

This 1935 photo shows Chloride after snowstorm. Winter weather two years later would claim two lives and set a record low temperature for Kingman. (GALLUP STUDIO, MOHAVE MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND ARTS/Courtesy)

This 1935 photo shows Chloride after snowstorm. Winter weather two years later would claim two lives and set a record low temperature for Kingman. (GALLUP STUDIO, MOHAVE MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND ARTS/Courtesy)

January is historically the coldest month for the Kingman area, with an average low temperature of 31.1 degrees Fahrenheit. So far this year we've had lows in the 20s, but that's nowhere near the record low temperature - 6 degrees Fahrenheit, recorded on Jan. 9, 1937.

The cold and the accompanying storms disrupted commerce in the area and, more importantly, claimed two lives while setting in motion some extreme rescue attempts.

MOHAVE COUNTY MINER, JAN. 15, 1937: Two dead in reservation snow storm

It has been many years since there was chronicled in Mohave county a death from cold and snow, yet the severe storms of the past week resulted in the death of two young Indian men. Wesley Maro, an Indian from New York and Wilbur Hunter, a Hualapai Indian, working in a road camp under government supervision near the east line of the Hualapai reservation near the Coconino county line, after the storm had landed attempted to make a trip for help and became exhausted and died on the way.

The body of Maro was recovered but the body of young Hunter is still lying beneath the heavy snows and will probably not be found until snows have melted. Young Hunter was the son of Blanche Hunter, an Indian woman who frequently worked as a domestic in several families in Kingman at various times.

Deputy Sheriff John Nelson of Peach Springs led the relief party to the road camps through snows that varied from five to seven feet in depth, rescuing ten men from the two camps and two squaws who were snowed in, in a cabin. The ten men who had remained in camp suffered from the cold and were getting short of food when the rescue party reached them and brought them to safety.

During the same storm period another party of forty men, women and children, at Horse Flat on the west side of the reservation about fifty miles in an air line northeasterly from Kingman in the high mesa lands were marooned by the snows and unable to make their way to lower altitudes. A party of rescuers headed by Foreman Arthur Jones, with George Jones, Charles McGee, Arthur Lee, and Ted Walema were out four days and Ed Wapp, Jim Mahone and Lloyd Price were out two days, before they reached the weather imprisoned group of Indians and brought them out to the Indian school at Valentine.

When the seriousness of the situation was realized and it was not known whether or not the rescue parties would be successful in getting through, arrangements were made with the government and two army bombers were landed at Needles, California, on solicitation with Guy Hobgood, superintendent of the Hualapai reservation. Mr. Hobgood accompanied by Del Shockley, Indian service engineer and D.D. Smith, forest supervisor, went to Needles with 900 pounds of supplies which the bombers were to drop at the marooned camps, but just before the bombers were to leave the Needles field, word was received that the several marooned parties had been reached by the rescue parties and were on their way out to relief headquarters.

The storms were of such unusual severity and arrived so quickly, accompanied by low temperature entirely unexpectedly that the Indians in the several camps were caught unprepared by the deep snows. Every effort was made by the supervisory forces of the reservations to rescue the Indians from their isolated camps. The rescue parties fought the snows for hours with a valor that is to be complimented.

Frozen water supplies stop several mills

The storms and extreme cold of the past several days has been temporarily detrimental to mine operation. At the Boriana, the water system was frozen and a partial shutdown was necessary. The same conditions maintained at the Bi-Metal mill south of Kingman. Work at the Rainbow mine in Chloride was also temporarily suspended.

At the Samoa also in the high mountains east of Chloride, operations were cut down to mining, the snows preventing the hauling of the ores down the mountain. The Gold Standard was depending entirely on the Arabian mine for its supply of ores at the mill by reason of the road conditions between the mill and the Portland mine from which it has been receiving over a hundred tons daily. Road work is being done and within a few days ore hauling will be again at normal.

The Telluride Chief mine in the Hualapai mountains was also closed down temporarily because of snows. Other properties all through the higher altitudes have likewise been retarded in their operations.