Posted by: csdailyblog | December 11, 2009

Hands-on History Class Experiences the Blizzard

The History of Wilderness Exploration class ventured out during the snowstorm to experience first-hand the driving snow and bitterly cold wind. Jake, Gabe, and Maggie are above the bog, where Ben and Teagan are standing.

Conserve School History Teacher Michael Salat’s  History of Wilderness class took advantage of the snowstorm on Tuesday to venture out into the blowing snow and read an excerpt on “exposure” from the book The Children’s Blizzard. This book, by David Laskin, chronicles a sudden, violent blizzard in 1888 that took the lives of many children walking home from school.  

The class read a portion of the chapter together indoors and then hiked to a clearing on campus where the wind could blow unimpeded by trees. While the driving snow and wind whipped at them, the class opened up their jackets for a few minutes — long enough to feel the effects of the wind chill and to develop some empathy for the young men and women caught in the 1888 blizzard.

Michael reports that the class will be reading the entire book next semester and that the experience piqued the students’ interest. (Photos by Jon Ciatti)



  1. David,
    Thanks for the kind offer to field some questions from my class. Please email at so I can get your contact information.
    Being a weather and history aficionado I found your book, The Children’s Blizzard riveting. From the student reaction to reading just one chapter I know they will enjoy the book while learn some valuable history and survival lessons.
    Thanks again, Michael

  2. Michael – if you have an extra copy of the book I’d love to read it, maybe when your class is done with it.

    Do you think this is the blizzard experience Laura Ingalls Wilder references in her book The Long Winter?

    (how cool that David posted! Maybe you all can conference during your unit)

    • Peggy,
      The Long Winter was about another brutal winter, but it was in 1880-81.

      I would be happy to share a copy of The Children’s Blizzard once we finish the unit.

      I have to thank Jeneen Willemmsen for suggesting that I read it.

      I’m very excited about having a conference call with the author, David Laskin.
      Thanks for your comments.

  3. Hey, I’m the author of The Children’s Blizzard and I just learned through Google Alerts that you read my chapter “Exposure” recently. I know the weather has been wild in your part of the country — eerily similar to the storm I wrote about, though the blowing snow and cold has covered a much bigger region in this storm. Weird weather here in Seattle too — below freezing and dry for days, which is odd for us since winters are generally mild and damp. I’d be happy to field questions on The Children’s Blizzard. I’m delighted and honored that you’re reading it, especially during a blizzard!
    Yours, David Laskin

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