They risked their lives to save people. During the Blizzard of 1966 men of the North Dakota State Highway Department were heroic in their efforts to find and rescue motorists lost in the storm. A typical rescue crew consisted of a V plow or rotary plow followed by a car or pickup. Cars and men for these perilous journeys were also provided by the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Game & Fish, and Truck Regulatory.
Highway department crews helped mothers in labor get to the hospital. They located a cattle truck stuck west of Mandan and got it to the sales ring. They went to Yegen Dairy to get milk for Bismarck. Rescuers were sent out to find basketball coaches who were stranded somewhere south of Breien. After a four-and-a-half-hour journey, they found them.
On US 81 north of Grand Forks, a rotary plow and station wagon went out to find people who were stuck. They found them and loaded those folks into the station wagon. On the trip back to Grand Forks the station wagon quit running because wet snow shorted out the motor. The rotary then towed the car to town and barely made it in as its motor was also getting wet. This 30-mile trip took six hours.
Sometimes, rescuers didn’t find the people who were lost on the road. At 9 p.m. March 4, the Minot District dispatched a V plow to find stranded people in the McClusky area. The plow, accompanied by a Highway Patrol car, went from Minot to Velva, then south to Turtle Lake. From Turtle Lake they went on to McClusky, arriving there at 4:30 a.m. Not finding them, they went on to Goodrich and then south to Sterling. They never did find the lost persons as they were either rescued by someone else or found shelter in a farm home.
These are only a few of the stories of the brave highway men during that storm. Their spirit continues today within the men and women who work on the road. Highway folk will always risk their lives to save people.