Killed by a January Thaw!

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While we are always learning new things that make life better, we are continually forgetting important skills that saved us from an untimely death a few generations back. This thought came to mind when I began to plan a snowshoe outing during our recent lovely weather. As I put my snowshoes on and took a few steps, I found that the surface of the snow was very wet and I sunk deeply into the drifts.

It was at this moment that my memory kicked in and I turned right around and headed back to the house and removed the snowshoes. In the historical past, trappers, hunters, and explorers were fearful of a sudden thaw when traveling during the winter months. Extensive wet snow soaks the webbing on the snowshoe and the wetter it get the more it sags and begins to stretch apart. If you keep traveling in these conditions the webbing gets so soft your foot sinks deeper than the frame of your snowshoes.  Eventually the webbing breaks and you are forced to stop and make camp.  The snowshoes need to repaired and dried out while you calmly feed your fire and await colder weather.

If you are caught on the trail miles from your cabin or proper winter shelter the situation becomes precarious  With deep snow conditions travel on foot is impossible.  Without snowshoes your moccasins become soaked, lose their strength and come apart, leaving you with wet feet.  At this point you are forced to sit out the so called better weather and hope you have enough food to keep you alive until things freeze again. Some stories report experienced outdoorsmen being trapped for almost a week.

Travelers who get into this situation and fail to appear at the end of the trail, cause friends to become concerned.  The poor snow conditions also prevents help from traveling to the rescue. Everyone just has to patiently await colder weather before he can hit the trail.  The search will usually find the traveler out of food, hungry and cold.  Under sever conditions the amateur will be found starved and/or frozen to death.

Keep this in mind before you head out to check your traps or visit your friends and relatives.



George’s house – a little history

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George’s House

I have learned that George Johnson bought the house and the land from Glen Clair Beck some time in the late 1940’s.

Beck bought the land and a smaller old house from Pete Anderson in 1938. In about 1942 Beck bought the present house and moved into onto the property in order to house his growing family. Betty (Beck) Wileski has kindly provided me with this information.  She lived in the house for about ten years before the family moved to farm south west of Lancaster.

At the present time we have not learned where the house originally came from, but we are still looking. To emphasize how small the original house was, Betty commented with a laugh, “After we moved out, it was turned into a chicken house.”

Betty’s information has confirmed the George Johnson purchased the house and the land and it was never owned by his parents who farmed in the Caribou area. If you know any additional information about George Johnson, his house, or family history please contact me at


George’s House

People die, houses are abandoned and time marches on.  Each year the local memory fades and soon no one remembers.

I took the photo of George’s house because the details are starting to fade faster than the house is.  We can drive past these old houses and don’t even notices them. A family lived here but now all are gone as are most of the facts.


I met George Johnson a few times but only knew a few facts.  He was an elderly bachelor who lived alone and raised cattle.  He did not own a car so drove his tractor the five or six miles to town when he needed anything. He was considered eccentric.

Then, when some time had passed I learned he loved to read and owned a lot of books. He was considered smart and had gone to university. I now regret I did not get to know him.

Later, I found out that in his youth he had left home to get a university education. At some point of time his father took ill and George was forced to come home and look after the farm. Eventually his mother took sick and died and George never did get the chance to go back to university and complete his education, nor did he ever marry.

While George was not a hermit he was a bachelor that kept to himself and seemed to struggle through life.  When his house deteriorated to the point it was no longer livable his friends and neighbors got together and moved a livable house on the site so he could spend the latter years of his life with better roof over his head.

George eventually died and the property has remained vacant. The replacement house was moved off and used for some other purpose.  The original old house remains as the only indication that this property once had a family living there. Someone new owns the property and it continues as a cattle pasture..

It seems sad to sum up a man’s life in half a dozen paragraphs.