Quit Whining About The Cold

Hi Joey,

I was at Sawyer Free Library the other day looking of historic photos and flipped open a book that landed on this page. It struck me as funny because I realized immediately that these kids were skating on the harbor. I asked myself  “How cold does it have to be, for what period of time, to freeze Gloucester Harbor (salt water mind you) to a thickness hard enough to skate on?” 


A little research led me to a volcanic eruption in Alaska in during June of 1912 that formed a new volcano called Novarupta, lasted 60 hours and spewed 3.6 cubic miles of magma and 4.7 cubic miles of ash into the atmosphere.  This eruption was 30 times more powerful than the eruption at Mount St. Helens and may have caused a mini-ice age that lasted a few years due to the ash cloud covering the planet in a fine layer of dust that reflected more sunlight back into space. 

What really put a smile on my face was that these kids are smiling! It must have been pretty darn cold for a while, but they were happy to be outside enjoying the cold.

If you want to see this photo, head to the library! Show this photo to one of the librarians, and you’ll be shocked at how quickly they’ll be able to find it.  While you’re there, get a library card and think about making a small donation to help make this wonderful resource even better!

Bill O’Connor
North Shore Kid
Where North Shore Parents and Resources Connect 




About Joey C

The creator of goodmorninggloucester.org Lover of all things Gloucester and Cape Ann. GMG where we bring you the very best our town has to offer because we love to share all the great news and believe that by promoting others in our community everyone wins.
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22 Responses to Quit Whining About The Cold

  1. I remember the inner harbor freezing over sometime in the 60s and Mr. Osier driving his jeep out onto it from Rocky Neck somewhere. I also remember skating in Mrs De Vicq’s little cove off Sumac Lane.

    • Dave Moore says:

      Great history Bill O’Connor North Shore Kid, Yes I do too! Sure was a hearty bunch in this photo clothing and shoes…Just to give folks some idea about “1912″ that when New Mexico and Arizona became states part of th fifty! :-)

  2. cammygrammy says:

    I remember skating on Smith Cove in the 1950′s. I don’t remember it being that cold but our house was so small outside was the only choice!!

  3. Cynthia Hill says:

    Hi ~ my Mum skated across the harbor often as a child, from Niles beach.
    Born in 1920, it had to have been late 20′s at earliest.
    Would be great fun to do it again, but I’m thinking more about swimming at Niles, at the moment.

  4. Anonymous says:

    thanks for sharing. Found this to be very interesting. I remember hearing about this when I was a little girl.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I found it to be so interesting. I remember my parents telling me this when I was a little girl.

  6. JaneMGibbs says:

    Fantastic! I grew up hearing about this from my grandparents and parents! It was Mighty Cold, they said.

  7. Lidiane Sands says:

    very nice piece of history…I love that everyday I learn more about CapeAnn.
    Thank you for sharing :)

  8. Bill that was a great share! I remember a similar photos of historic times of Gloucester in a small collection of coffee table spiral bound black and white photo books at my parents house growing up. I going on a hunt to find them this winter, haven’t seen them in years!

  9. Patti Amaral says:

    Fantastic! I have been skating at the Lily Pond and find it wonderful place to skate large enough to get a good workout, grew up in Riverdale Park with the Mill Pond in my backyard I lived at the maintenance building could walk with my skates to the pond. Would love to skate the harbor in my time, next year perhaps.

  10. karen says:

    I also remember my Mom and Dad telling me about the harbor being frozen. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Kate D says:

    Great photo & story & suggestion to get a library card. Can you tell us what book it was in?

  12. My dad told me about when he and his buddies would walk from the Fort to the Breakwater on the iced-over harbor….Now THAT was cold!!

  13. Bill Langer says:

    Bill, my dad told me that when he was a kid (late twenties) someone drove a Model T from Cambridge Beach in Squam over to Wingaersheek. Considering the tidal currents right there, it must have been awful cold.

    • Bill, your dad was a treasure and I loved him dearly. He had some great photos that he showed me one day up in his attic. The photos showed the house that they lived in on Adams Hill Road being moved in it’s entirety very the hill to the spot where it is now!

      The hardest part of the model T story would have been getting the car down onto the beach!

  14. Donna Foley says:

    My grandfather, Fred Fosberry, born in 1881, told us about the frozen over harbor. He said he walked across the harbor in those days. For awhile he worked at the harbor selling gear to the fishermen from a horse-drawn cart. He also used to own, and began to raise his family in a house on the waterfront, which was removed for the construction of Stacy Boulevard.

  15. Joe T says:

    In the 60′s there was a good freeze where the ice reached half way out of the harbor. 8-10 inches near shore and thinking out toward the edge outside Ten Pound Island. Salt ice is funny stuff and can have air pockets in it. I know when I broke through out side of greasy pole, learn my lesson. In 80′s are times ice ran out to paint factory. As we push through it with boats ice would scrape of bottom paint leaving color streaks in he broken ice. Course that as after a large ship or ice cutter would open up a few channels.

  16. lise says:

    There is a great oil of FH Lane called, “Ships in Ice off Ten Pound Island. ca. 1850. MFAhttp://www.mfa.org/collections/object/ships-in-ice-off-ten-pound-island-gloucester-33194

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