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January 2021 Newfound Lake Life Page 5
Alexandria Snow Roller is a Reminder of Winter
 By dOnna rhOdes
ALEXANDRIA – Today resi- dents of the Newfound area are used to the sound of large snow plows rumbling down the road during a winter storm, but up until the early 1930s there was barely a sound to be heard as the snow rollers passed by.
Throughout the winter months snow-covered roads made travelling difficult at best in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Even horses could get bogged down in the drifts as they pulled a sleigh so people could buy or sell at the market, head to church, or visit with family and friends. The solution? Pack the snow down so sleighs could glide more readily over the surface.
Historians don’t know for certain which clever Yankee actually came up with the idea of rolling snow but it caught on quickly once towns re- alized how much easier travel was when it was all packed down.
In those early days the rollers were pulled by a team of oxen or horses, sometimes both were used. According to the Alexandria His- torical Society, the man who lived closest to where the roller was kept was generally the one who started packing the snow in their town. He and his team would set out to roll as many of the town roads as they could. Once the job got too cold or the animals became
too tired, he would
unhitch the team and
pass the roller on to the
next nearby resident.
That process continued
until all the roads were
packed and passable.
By the early 1930’s however, trucks were equipped with plows to push the snow off the
roads and the snow rollers were retired. Because they were largely constructed out of wood, few of the once popular rollers can be found today, unless you take a ride into Al- exandria Village.
Due to age, the wood on the old roller had rotted away over the years, but town resident Sherm Wadham had the two metal wheels and the shaft and donated them to the Alex- andria Historical Society. One day several years ago, Joe Kraemer de- cided the old roller should be rebuilt.
“The pieces were all there but nothing was being done with them. It’s something historical; a lot of people today don’t even know what a snow roller is,” he said.
After doing a lot of research on the subject, Kraemer designed plans for the roller from old photos he found, with a few additions such as a seat on top and steps up the back to get to it. Oak from Peter Brown’s property on Patten Brook Rd. in Alexandria was cut and delivered to Tom Moore’s sawmill where it was then made into planks. After the wood was dried for a year, the con- struction phase began with Moore, Ken Patten and Bruce Wheeler join- ing Kraemer to work on the project. Together the four men cleaned and restored the metal pieces, rebuilt and sealed the wooden roller, and
by 2013 had it ready to be placed on display. Also giving their talents and time to the project were Bob Piehler, Bert Hirtle, Peter Brown and Don and Leon Sharp.
While New Hampshire had a few companies who built snow roll-
ers in the early 1900s and sold them to area towns, Kraemer said he believes Alexandria’s was not pur- chased, but built right in the town. All the more fitting to know that’s just where it was refurbished nearly 100 years later.
The roller can now be scene parked beside the Alexandria His- torical Society on Washburn Road in the village where it’s still easy to imagine a team of horses pulling it passed the church and the old grange hall on a snowy winter day.
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 Snow rollers were once a common sight in the winter, but this roller on display in Alexandria is one of the few to be found now that large trucks and plows have taken over the job of clearing snow from area roads.
Helping to bring Alexandria’s historic snow roller back to life seven years ago were (left to right) Don Sharp, Leon Sharp, Bob Piehler, Brice Wheeler, Peter Brown, Joe Kraemer, Bert Hirtle, and Ken Patten (Missing from photo is Tom Moore). PHOTOS COURTESY OF JOE KRAEMER

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