Snow falls in the most inconvenient places sometimes. It has been around just as long as man but it has only been in the last 200 hundred years have we finally figured out how to effectively control the snow when it has fallen where we don’t want it to. From shoveling it out of the way to using machines, like everything else that humans have invented snow removal has been perfected in a series of steps.
When the winter storms moved in and the snow clogged the sidewalks and roads there were no other choices for snow removal other then good old fashioned human muscle power. Before the advent of the first snow plow in the 1840’s if a merchant wanted customers to be able to get to his shop he was out in the streets with all of the other merchants shoveling the snow out of the way, same with the sidewalks.
At this time people were still getting around on foot and with horse drawn sleighs in the winter. So the people that were doing the snow shoveling couldn’t do such a good job that they removed all of the snow or the sleighs would not be able to get down the street. Instead they had to remove most of the snow and the drifts and pat down the snow for nice smooth sleigh rides.
In 1862, more then ten years after the invention of the horse drawn snow plow, the city of Milwaukee was the first major city to use it as a means of snow removal. This is the great solution to having to shovel the streets almost everyday in the winter. The only problem is that the snow plows don’t plow evenly and the sleighs have to deal with “sleigh potholes”. Also they create the same problem that we see today with the snow piling up on the edges of the street and having to get rid of them. So it was back to the shoveling again so that people could get from the street to the sidewalk now, but the sleighs were just going to have to deal with the bumpy ride.
In some towns snow rollers were employed instead. A horse drawn snow roller (not to be confused with the natural weather phenomenon) was a large drum pulled behind a team of horses. Instead of removing the snow it just pressed it down. Making a nice smooth path for the sleighs.
Luckily the Horse drawn snow plow disappeared about fifty years after they were put into effect by the cities. In the year 1913 cities were getting rid of their horse powered snow plows for stronger and more efficient motorized snow plow. One interesting snow removal invention that came about with the motorized age was the Barber-Green snowloader (http://nsidc.org/snow/shovel.html). The snowloader did not just plow snow out of the way it completely removed the snow from the street by plowing it up and into the back of a dump truck on a conveyor belt.
Even though we still employ shovels in this day to remove small amounts of snow from sidewalks and driveways, motorized means take care of the bigger jobs for us. There are even some that don’t use a shovel, instead they employ a snow blower ( a machine that picks up and tosses the snow where the user wants it to be) to take care of the small to medium jobs. But as for the cities, motorized snowplows, dump trucks and even tractors clear the way for us now.