The Jamestown Street Department entered the mechanical age in the spring of 1922.

Prior to that, two teams of horses provided the power for the street department.

That did not always work well.

A Feb. 27, 1922, article in The Jamestown Alert noted some of the problems of winter street work.

“Starting out bright and early the morning after the first big blizzard of the winter, Feb. 1, the two Jamestown city teams have been kept busy every day since,” the Alert wrote.

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The city crews did take a two-day break from dealing with snow to haul coal to City Hall and other city buildings to keep the heat on.

“Capitol Hill has been given considerable trouble, especially since the last storm,” the article continued. “The city teams have opened up the road several times.”

You drive up Capitol Hill leaving Jamestown to the north on U.S. Highway 281. It earned the name when Jamestown tried to get the state Capitol located on the land north of the Fort Seward site.

The Jamestown Street Department’s priorities were a little different in the more pedestrian society of the 1920s.

“The first attention after each blizzard was given to the sidewalks in an effort to clear a way for the children to get to school,” said the Alert. “The walks in all but the outlying districts were gone over with the snow plow.”

After that, the horses and workers used horse-drawn scoops to clear snow from the downtown streets and “breaking a road thru to the cemeteries and so that farmers could get into the city.”

But times were changing. After a late February blizzard, a local resident hooked his own tractor to the city’s “heavy road machine” to clear some of the major streets in Jamestown including the road to the hospital.

And you have to wonder why clearing streets to the hospital wasn’t one of the first priorities of the city.

The Jamestown City Council addressed making changes to the street crew at its May meeting.

“It was held by the majority of the councilmen that more work could be done at less expense by a small tractor than by the two teams of horses,” wrote the Alert in an article coving the meeting.

The City Council voted to sell the two teams and the harness that went with them and buy a small tractor. The council agreed to hire teams and teamsters for any projects that only horsepower would solve.

Author Keith Norman can be reached at