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Cape Cod The Winter of 1875

The winter of 1874-‘75 was one long to be remembered on Cape Cod. The cold was extreme and locked tight every harbor along the shore.

No one could remember when the cold had been so intense or lasted so long. This was not the mild Cape winter. It was more like the Arctic regions for the vast expanse of Cape Cod Bay was one solid mass of ice. It stretched from Provincetown across the Bay to Manomet, near Plymouth, a distance of twenty-two miles.

In the neighborhood of Provincetown a fleet of fishing vessels that was unable to reach the harbor became immovably imbedded in the ice floe. A few were set free by the work of a steam cutter, but by far the greater number remained helplessly imprisoned without other change than that brought about by the occasional drift of the ice-floe in the strong gales.

It was a sight long to be remembered. Where before was the expanse of blue water, nothing now could be seen except the white slab, pure as marble, that sealed the harbors tight and solid. All within the eye of the Cape was dead sea.

Flags of distress were displayed in every direction from the masts of crippled vessels that no help could reach. Their hulls, rigging and tapering spars were so ice-encrusted as to look like ships of glass. As many as twenty-five signals of distress were counted at one time from the life-saving station at Provincetown. Some of the unlucky craft were crushed and sunk to the bottom; others were abandoned by their crews, who had eaten their last crust and burned the bulwarks of their vessels for fuel. The remainder were at last released by the breakup of the ice-floe, that only relaxed its grip after having held them fast for a month.

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 08/03/06
Categories: HistoryWeather
Keywords: history, weather


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