Aerial View of 1949 Fillmore covered with snow
As far as we know, Fillmore has never had a white Christmas, but a few weeks after Christmas in 1949 it seemed the entire area had been transported to the northern climes. Unseasonably cold weather hit the area from January 8th to January 12th, much of Southern California received measurable snowfall. It even snowed on Catalina Island!
1949 Snow Storm Phil and Fred Young
On January 8th, temperatures in Fillmore dropped to 28 degrees and remained low for almost a week. Citrus growers throughout the area lost much sleep keeping the smudge pots going in an attempt to save the navel orange crop which was just being harvested.
1949 Fillmore High School
School closed as did a few businesses. One business that did not close was the telephone exchange located on the ground floor of the Masonic Building. At that time, all calls had to go through an operator, there was no such thing as direct dial. On January 12, the number of calls almost doubled from a normal day of about 6,300 to more than 11,000. The previous high had been 8,000 calls. Gretchen Stanley, the chief operator, called in her staff so all 13 switchboards were covered. Apparently the high volume was due to the snowstorm, the low temperature, and the closing of the high school.
Chambersburg Road 1949
According to Phil Young, “My brother Fred and I had, it seemed, endless play time in the white stuff. I also recall going with my dad, Merlin Young, in his pick-up to look at the snow around the area. On that little drive he stopped to talk with Brick Fansler. As ranchers do, they analyzed the situation and the possible impact on the orange crop. I was thinking: can we just go home for some more snow fun. Even though it was in January it truly was a white Christmas.”
Christian Science Church 1949
On Guiberson Road, Bill Shiells pulled son Bill and the neighbor kids around in the snow on the family toboggan.
Fillmore looked as if it had been painted white. The snow lasted a very short time, only about 2 days before it began to melt away. But, the local children had time to build a snowman, make snow angels, and stage snowball fights. There have been a few snow events in Fillmore over the years since but 1949 was special and is fondly remembered by today’s grandparents who were just school age when it happened.
Foothill Drive, January, 1949