As the Northeast prepares for the impending Nor’easter as though snow were an altogether new phenomenon, it begins to feel as though many people have let Frozen go a little too much to their heads. The panic is not entirely unfounded—it never hurts to reinforce your rations of Swiss Miss and chicken soup—but this is certainly not Snowmageddon’s first rodeo.
The several feet of snow predicted to blanket the Northeast over the next few days pale in comparison to the 6½ feet that pummeled upstate New York in December 1958. That storm—meteorogically speaking a snowburst as opposed to a blizzard, as it was not accompanied by high winds—left the city of Oswego frozen in time for days. After four days of snowfall, LIFE reported:
Traffic, business and mail had come to a standstill. Police were running milk to snowbound families. In the big digout that followed, the price of snow shovels skyrocketed and the mayor took to dog sled and team to get around town.
The magazine dispatched photographer Carl Mydans to capture the scene. Mydans’ photos, several of which appear above, didn’t end up running. Instead, LIFE ran four pages of reader-submitted photos, describing Oswegians’ response to the storm as one that employed snapping shutters as much as scooping shovels. So avid were the citizens in their documentation that the film supply ran out. “Processing shops were swamped with exposed rolls,” LIFE reported, “as snow scenes began to appear cheek by jowl with last summer’s undeveloped beach pictures.”
The only difference between their response and ours, then, is a hashtag—#Snowmageddon2015 and #blizzardof2015, in case you’re keeping track.
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.