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The History of Snow Plows

In the 1800s, several inventors filed patents for a horse-drawn snow plow. At first, these devices were only meant to clear alleyways and other areas with heavy foot traffic; believe it or not, packed snow was actually desirable on roadways before the age of the automobile. The first major city to employ a snow plow was Milwaukee in 1862. Soon after, other cities in the Snow Belt followed suit. After the Blizzard of 1888, which dumped over 50 inches of snow in areas along the East Coast and created windblown drifts up to 40 feet high, cities began to prepare for winter in advance by hiring more snow plows, assigning routes, and starting to clear snow in the early stages of a storm rather than waiting until it had passed – all methods we still use today. When cars replaced carriages on city roads, the snow plow needed an update. Thankfully, car-mounted snow plows came into being in the early 1920s. Two different designs emerged – one from Norwegian brothers Hans and Even Overaasen, and one from New Yorker Carl Frink. Their inventions neatly solved the issue of how to remove snow to make roads passable for cars, and in fact, we still use vehicle-mounted snow plows today.

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