Storms – The Cumberland River Freezes

I am a few weeks behind in my ancestry blogging journey, so this week, I am attempting to play catch-up! My husband and I were able to take a much needed vacation, and part of that vacation was putting anything that even resembled work on hold. While it was fun to take some off, I am excited to get back to genealogy.

This particular prompt was a bit difficult for me. So far, I haven’t uncovered many stories in my family history in which storms play a large part, so I am afraid this post will be a bit short. But there was one weather related incident that I discovered that affected my family in an exciting way.

On 26 January 1940, Nashville experienced an extreme cold snap and the temperature dropped to 6 degrees below zero. It was so cold that the Cumberland River, which runs through Nashville, froze solid. This was a pretty amazing feat! The Cumberland River had frozen over several other times before 1940, including in 1779, 1876, 1893, and 1905. So when it froze in 1940, the newspapers in Nashville ran several articles about how Nashvillians reacted to this exciting phenomenon. People walked, ran, played, and drove cars on the ice despite the safety warnings.

Newspaper photograph from the Nashville Times showing people walking on the Cumberland River.

My several times great aunt Bert, uncle Mike, and some of their friends walked out onto the ice on 27 January to pose for a photograph. Although it was quite cold, in the photograph, aunt Bert looks warm in her huge fur coat. For various reason, I am not able to post the photograph on my blog at the moment (hopefully soon!), but I love how fearless they both were! My 2x great grandmother Jessie, aunt Bert’s sister, wrote a letter to her son on the same day, complaining about the cold weather. The letter doesn’t mention if she was one of the group of friends who went to the river that day, but it is possible that she was!

Eventually the ice thawed, but my relatives kept the fun postcard photograph that forever commemorated the moment.

 

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