ISHPEMING — Nancy and Barbara Sleeper of Newberry recently discovered a 16 millimeter film in their mother’s basement. The black and white video made in the 1930s displays some of the challenges of winter.
“It’s a really good look back at where we used to be,” said said MDOT Communications Representative Dan Weingarten, “and how far we’ve come.”
A re–discovered film from the 1930’s titled ‘Winter Comes to Michigan‘ was created by MDOT’s precursor, the Michigan Highway Department. The video was originally created to promote the need for efficient snow removal on our roads.
The strong need for such a message was due to the impact snow used to have on the area. At times it even put life on hold.
“We’ve been known as a Winter Wonderland for a long time, but until people were able to get around reliably in the winter months you couldn’t really go to a ski hill, you couldn’t get out and go to a winter park and enjoy yourself outdoors.”
Some of the most significant changes include improvements in technology. A lot of the work done in the thirties was done by hand with people clearing snow away from signs along the side of the road.
“The trucks that were in that video might have been 100 or 130 horsepower and to them that was a beast of a truck and today we’ve got 550 or 600 horsepower plows.”
Weingarten added that it’s inspiring to see how far things have progressed, and motivating to think of the potential the future holds.
“We’re constantly trying to improve the level of service that we can give to motorists in Michigan and we are always looking at new technology. I have no doubt that 50 or 100 years from now we’ll look back on this era as somewhat more primitive of what they (will) have then. You look back and it does inspire you to look forward. ”
MDOT is currently working on increasing the network of road weather information system towers and piloting a program that will allow members of the public to view an interactive map online to see where the plows have been.