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Iowa History Daily: March 16 - State Basketball Snowstorm of 1959

Iowa History Daily: On March 16, 1959, a large snowstorm finally ended after dumping snow throughout the state and disrupting the 6-on-6 girls basketball state tournament. Over 5,000 fans in Des Moines for the games spent a memorable night in Veterans Memorial Auditorium to ride out the storm’s first night.

As the storm slowly moved north-by-northeast from Kansas, across Iowa, and into Illinois starting on March 14, the deadly late-season storm claimed six lives. New Hampton topped statewide snowfall totals for the storm when 12.5” dropped on the seat of Chickasaw County. Fort Dodge recorded 10”, and 60 mph winds created drifts stacking up to over 15’.

In Des Moines, officials decided to offer out-of-town fans accommodations at “The Barn” following eventual state-champion Gladbrook’s 72-60 win over Maynard. Local DJ, Frosty Mitchell, rode a snowplow downtown to spin records for the collected crowd, leading to perhaps Iowa’s greatest impromptu sock hop.

By the following morning, the crowds departed still from a night of dancing and sleeping on bleachers. The concessionaires recorded the crowd ate through 5,000 doughnuts, 6,600 sandwiches, 12,000 soft drinks and 3,000 cups of coffee. The fans also departed with memories of one of the most remembered snow storms in Iowa history. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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