50 Years, 50 Stories


Published Jan. 27, 1978 in The Ledger Independent

Life all but stopped in the seven-county Maysville area Thursday.

A brutal winter storm, packing blizzard-like winds of 40 milers an hour and more, raked Kentucky and Ohio and created a nightmare of ice and snow.

All state roads, from a line west of Morehead to the Kentucky-Missouri border were closed. Streets in Maysville and roads in Mason County were one vast sheet of solid ice. All schools and many businesses remained closed tight as a jug.

Don Stahl and Doug McGill from their weather command post at WFTM reported rapidly falling temperatures and winds of 35 miles an hour. That figured to a chill factor of minus 38. It got worse.

One group of people were trapped for 5 1/2 hours on the Slack Pike in the howling wind and cold. The finally made it to safety at the Billy Conway farm shortly after daybreak.

Mayor J.C. Rash proclaimed a state of emergency and urged people to stay off the streets. Snow tires and studded toes were useless and chains didn’t work much better. What traffic moved did so by the very hardest.

Mason County students who haven’t been to school in a month of Sundays, had company. Board of Education personnel threw in the towel and declined to report to work. Schools in Bracken, Lewis, Fleming, Robertson, Brown and Adams counties were empty and cold. So were Maysville and St. Patrick schools.

Maysville Community College was closed. So was the Mason County Health Department, the Social Security office and Bluegrass Industries. Early on the list of closings continued to mount. G.C. Murphy in the Shopping Center, the Maysville Vocational School, Verville Construction and the Maysville Country Club. Maysville buses sat silent in the city garage.

Gene Ensor, supervisor of sales, arose to the fry of the storm and once again clamped the lid on Maysville tobacco market auctions, Sales won;t be held today and it may be that the Feb. 7 closing date will be extended.

The list of closings expanded throughout the day as people simply found it virtually impossible to travel. The story was the same in all communities as the frigid winds played absolute hell with everything.

It tore at trees and roofs and awnings and all but buried Kentucky Utilities under an avalanche of power problems. At 9:30 a.m., power had been out in Limestone Village for 10 hours. A spokesman for KU reported outages at Hillcrest and Deerfield Village.

Basketball coaches, already crippled with a previous wave of postponements, took one look at the winter horror story and threw up their hands in despair.

The U.S, Postal Service limped along at best. Many incoming trucks didn’t make it and only the business district received mail.