Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Waiting for the Spring Freshet

Are you enjoying this nice old-fashioned winter we are having?  Are you waiting for the spring freshet?  That's not a phrase we hear too much these days.  The spring freshet is the flooding that occurs when the winter's river ice starts to break up causing jams. The ice jams then block the normal flow causing flooding.

Besides the desire for springtime, I've been thinking about the freshet because of a history mystery that has been solved.

Back in July 2011 I hung up a poster at town hall with this text and the series of photos below.

What is going on, and what are those men blowing up?

These photos are a cold and wintery history mystery to contemplate on a hot summer day. They came out of a scrapbook found in the attic of a historic Van Wies Point home.  The house has been associated with the Welch and Hakes families and the activity most likely took place on the Hudson River. 

Beyond that we are left only with questions.  Here are a few I am thinking about: Who are the men in the photograph? Why are they blowing something up out on the ice of the Hudson River.  What company owns the icehouse in the photo?
What do you think? 
No. 1

No. 3
No. 4

No. 5

No. 7

No. 2

Last week I was delving into that attic box again and came across this clipping.
Mystery solved!

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I was able to find the complete article.

The date of the article is March 9, 1912.  Here are the captions which match the photo numbers above.  

No. 1—William Welch, blaster in charge, removing the dynamite from box and putting it in thawing out box. 
No.2—As the dynamite exploded. 
No 3 Thawing the dynamite with hot water. 
No.4—Ties sticks of dynamite together, inserting cap and attaching fuse wire. 
No. 5—Drawing the explosive to the scene of action. 
No. 6 Heating the water to thaw out dynamite. 
No. 7—Explosive is put in canvas bag and lowered through hole in the ice.

William Welch was a resident of Van Wies Point.  One census described him as a marine engineer. 

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