The Byrd Snow Cruiser Passes Through Conneaut on the way to Antarctica

Conneaut. October 1939. Early snow and biting winds have reminded some of the city’s residents of an event that attracted so much attention in October 1939 that traffic jams and even pedestrian jams resulted.

The occasion was the arrival of the Snow Cruiser part of Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s Antarctic Expedition which passed briefly in the city, enroute from Chicago to Boston where it embarked on its history -making cruise. The huge mobile equipment caused considerable stir on its lumbering way.

Although residents were soon to become accustomed to the convoys of heavy equipment as the war in Europe flamed into action, the approach of the awesome looking behemoth was reason enough for many merchants along Main Street to lock the doors of their establishments and hurry across town in the middle of the afternoon.

Curious Line Streets

As the 75,000 pound cruiser powered by two rather uncommon diesel motors and covering nearly the entire width of Route 20 rolled into the city, cameras clicked like the frantic typing of an overworked secretary. Pedestrians lined the streets, six deep at some points, and when the cruiser finally appeared at the intersection of Harbor and Liberty Streets, the crush of curious humans nearly overwhelmed the crew members.  Several of the more daring citizens took advantage of the crews departure to a local restaurant to examine the ponderous machinery more closely.

Forewarned of the pending arrival of the cruiser, a throng of motorists jammed the streets of the city late the night before its actual arrival. Police struggled with the crowds, which finally dispersed.  However, the police were not finished with the spectators, for the curious citizens continued to telephone the police station as well as the fire department and the newspaper office for information regarding the slow approach of the vehicle. Pranksters and wits took up the banner and the favorite approach of the anonymous caller was, “I’m Admiral Byrd, where is my cruiser?”

As the city settled down to comparative calm the day after the celebrated visit, Erie turned out to view the giant. There, a Boy Scout ovation was extended to Boy Scout Paul Sipple whose grandparents resided in Kelloggsville. Sipple had been selected to accompany Admiral Byrd on his expedition into the unknown wastes of snow and ice.

Ashtabula Star Beacon, Conneaut 50 Years Ago

Sunday April 4, 2004 (The date on the page is the date that it was first published in the

Conneaut Herald in October1954, not necessarily the same week or month of Star Beacon date.)

Date of Snow Cruiser in Conneaut

October 1939