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Off to School We Go


By Shannon Butler

Off to School We Go first appeared in Islandport Magazine, Winter 2018

Presque Isle averages ninety-two inches of snow per year, and before the advent of high-powered snowplows, keeping roads clear was a challenge. Prior to 1931, Route 1, which connects Houlton to Presque Isle, was not cleared of snow. Instead of plowing, snow was rolled by heavy horse-drawn drums that compacted the snow into wide, icy roads. The most efficient way to travel on these roads was by sleigh, and school buses were modified for the snowy season. These wooden buses were outfitted on skis for quick travel and had benches against the walls for children to sit on. The smokestack on the roof of each bus was attached to its very own wood stove to keep small hands and feet toasty warm on the way to and from school. In the days long before heated vehicles, this was an important feature in a region where the average winter temperature during the day hovered around twenty degrees.  

Presque Isle Historical Society
Maysville Museum
165 Caribou Road
Presque Isle, ME 04769
Phone: 207-762-1151
see website for hours and tour information