Earlier this week, a few inches of snow accumulated on the ground across eastern Massachusetts. Honestly, this last snow squall wasn’t too bad, but there’s a Nor’easter predicted for this weekend. In the 21st century, it’s easy for us to prepare for snowstorms. We have plows and de-icing chemicals to keep the streets clear of snow and ice. We use snow blowers to keep our sidewalks and driveways clear. However, it wasn’t that long ago that those tools weren’t available to us.
This image, from Quincy in 1920, was taken of workers clearing off the snow from railway tracks so trolleys can make their stops. Back in the early 20th century, the streetcar was an integral part of everyday life. Commuters needed to get to their jobs, people needed to get supplies for the winter, and the sick needed to visit doctors. Having these tracks clear was very important.
You may think that this type of manual labor is over, however, last winter dozens of MBTA workers lined up in the snow to dig out rails so that the trains could run. Sometimes, modern technology can’t replace manpower.