Lake George winter — 1888–89

Maury Thompson
3 min readAug 29, 2022

Lake George froze over at Caldwell six days before Christmas in 1888, forming an ice surface that would last until the second week of April.

“Its glary surface now presents a good field for venturesome skaters,” The Morning Star of Glens Falls reported.

On Christmas Day, The Morning Star reported that the lake was frozen from the head of the lake as far as the Trout Pavilion Hotel at Kattskill Bay.

On Jan. 17, 1889, Harry Sexton, age 11, skated three-quarters of mile on the frozen surface of Lake George in two minutes and 35 seconds.

Others skated at a more leisurely pace.

“There was a large party of young people on the lake skating last night,” the Lake George correspondent to The Morning Star reported.

The ice was sufficient for skating, but not for horses.

“There has been no driving on the lake of horses yet, something that our earliest inhabitants don’t remember happening before,” The Lake George correspondent reported on Feb. 1.

A week later the ice was thicker.

“The ice on Lake George, at Caldwell, is twelve inches thick and in good condition,” The Morning Star reported on Feb. 8. “Station Agent Fennel has a force of men clearing off the snow preparatory to the work of cutting next week.”

There was disappointment once the cutting started.

“Harvesters of ice on Lake George pronounce the crop the poorest it has been in years,” The Morning Star reported on Feb.12.

On Feb. 16, The Morning Star clarified that the Delaware and Hudson Railroad harvesting crew was cutting crystal clear ice.

“The Star said in a recent issue, upon a resident of Caldwell, that the ice taken from the lake was unusually poor in quality. This was doubtless true within the observation of our informant, but we have since learned that the poor ice was due to the fact that the snow which fell from time to time had not been kept cleared from the surface.”

Horse racing on the ice was occurring by March.

“An effort is being made to have another horse trot on the lake as soon as tracks can be scraped,” The Morning Star reported on March 9.

Landlord Brown of the Central House was renovating the hotel’s bar over the offseason.

The morning of April 11, a portion of the ice broke up and was moving off Lake George, but ice was still intact at the head of the lake.

By the evening of April 11, Lake George was completely free of ice, open water coming more than two weeks earlier than the May 1 thaw in 1888.

“Our season is several weeks in advance of what it usually is,” the Lake George correspondent reported on April 18. “In place of melting ice in the lake and mud on land, we are free from ice and the dust is flying in our streets.

On April 25, the steamer The Star was removed from winter storage and placed in the water, in readiness for another tourism to begin soon.

“Hotel men are busy getting their places ready for the summer,” The Morning Star reported on April 27.

At the northern end of the lake, spring labor was underway.

“Log rafting seems to be the order of the day here,” the Hague correspondent reported. “There have been two rafts to Ticonderoga already.”

Click here to read my most recent Lake George history post.

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Maury Thompson

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY