Weather rambling — Tough choice in winter 1880

It’s a tough choice between spring-like weather and whimsical winter transportation.

“The warmer weather the past few days has spoiled the sleighing,” the Patten’s Mills correspondent to The Commercial Advertiser of Sandy Hill, now Hudson Falls, reported on Jan. 14, 1880.

“The fine weather, it is feared, may necessitate the use of wagons soon,” the Smith’s Basin correspondent reported.

A week earlier, the Dunham’s Bay correspondent reported: “Mercury above zero. Weather pleasant and salubrious, but implications of a storm.”

The unseasonable dampness put an editor in a sarcastic mood.

“This is good weather for rheumatism,” The Commercial Advertiser quipped on Jan. 7.

Sleighing was not the only winter activity threatened by the unseasonable weather.

“Our farmers generally are getting ready for the ice harvest, which bids to be a poor one unless the weather gets cold,” The Commercial Advertiser reported on Jan. 14.

The mill pond at Fort Ann may have been clear of ice, or perhaps village officials were mad enough to chop a hole through the ice.

“The village trustees have noticed several of the more prominent citizens in this village that they must clear the sidewalk in front of their premises of snow and ice,” the Fort Ann correspondent reported. “Anyone failing to comply with this notice should be dunked in the mill pond.”

There was enough snow and ice at Sandy Hill to keep youngsters amused.

“The principal amusement of our youngsters is coasting. Almost any evening a large number of young ladies and gents may be seen gliding down the different hills in our village.”

Ice harvesting reports were mixed on Jan. 21.

“The cutting and drawing of ice (at Fort Edward) was commenced last week, but owing to the protracted thaw it has been discontinued.”

At Parks’ Ferry, on the other hand, four companies were harvesting ice.

“O, what weather! Snow shovels were in great demand this morning. Ice is being taken from the river at this place 12 inches thick.”

The temperature dropped in February.

“Monday appeared to be the coldest day we have had this winter,” The Commercial Advertiser reported on Feb. 4. “It is stated that the broad part of Lake Champlain was frozen over Sunday for the first time this winter.”

Several teams had gone through the ice at Dresden Center the previous week.

Sleighing conditions were improving, The Commercial Advertiser reported on Feb. 11.

“The sleighing is the best it has been here this winter,” The Pattens Mill correspondent reported.

“The recent snowstorm enables our lumbermen to again get out, and it seems quite natural to hear their sonorous voices as they arouse before daylight,” the Dresden Center correspondent reported.

But then came another thaw.

“Again, our town looks as if a funeral pall had been drawn over it, as the recent thaw has driven the lumbermen off the streets and the ice is again so poor that very few dare to venture on it,” the Dresden Center correspondent reported on Feb. 18.

The cold weather returned, and at Lake George, ice 20-inches think was being harvested, The Commercial Advertiser reported on Feb. 25.

At Dresden Center, farmers were harvesting ice to store up for the months ahead, while “Jimmy and Warren” caught fish through the ice.

“Fishermen are reaping a good harvest now,” the Dresden Center correspondent reported. “Pickerel, bass, pike and the smaller kinds of the finny tribe are being caught in large quantities hereabouts. Jimmy and Warren are after them.”

A wind storm wreaked havoc in northern Washington County.

“The west wind of Wednesday night came down through our vales and over the hills with such force as to carry trees, roofs and fences before it, as if they had been feathers — doing considerable damage.”

The word wicked could fittingly be added to “west wind of Wednesday” to expand on the alliteration.

Click here to read my most recent previous Weather Rambling post.

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Maury Thompson

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY