“Moans from homeowners who find snowdrifts deposited by snowplows in newly shoveled driveways can be silenced,” Popular Mechanics wrote in November 1962, about an invention created in the village of Edina, Minnesota.
Adam Batko, Edina’s superintendent of public works, designed a “snow gate” for plows. As snowplow drivers passed a driveway, they lowered the gate, blocking snow from forming a drift, then raising the gate to dump snow at the side of the road.
“The people of Edina were very pleased,” Dorothy Batko told the Star Tribune in 1996 after her husband died at 83. “The snow gate was patented and sold worldwide.”
When the gates were first used in the late 1950s, a plow needed two operators: one to drive and another to manually pump a handle that would lift and lower the blade. Batko later improved the design to include a hydraulic lift.
As the village grew, so did its miles of streets and the number of driveways. Lifting and lowering a blade several times per block slowed plow times and added signicant labor and fuel costs. Public works superintendent Steve Johnson summed up the device’s shortcomings in a 1985 Star Tribune article: “It’s so slow that if we were to plow the whole city with it, we wouldn’t finish until July 1st.” Snow gates are now used infrequently in Edina.
For more stories from Edina’s past, visit edinahistoricalsociety.org/blog.