On this snow-day-that-wasn’t, a reminder from the New England Historical Society (courtesy my friend Bill Campbell), of the Great Snow of 1717 in New England:
Remembering the Great Snow of 1717 in New England
Had enough snow yet? Given the staggering Great Snow of 1717, it’s somewhat surprising that this question isn’t the official New England motto. That year, historians report that New England had probably the roughest winter it ever recorded.
So much snow fell that year, capped off by a series of storms that started in late February, that the Puritans in Boston held no church services for two successive weeks, reported Cotton Mather. The events were so unusual that he and other contemporary diarists made note of how exceptionally harsh it was throughout New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Though the dates varied, the storms are most commonly cited as having occurred between February 27 and March 9, though others include storms of February 18 to the 24th as being part of the Great Snow of 1717.
Regardless of dates, for generations after it became common in New England to refer to events as having occurred either before or after the great snow. Writers including Henry David Thoreau made reference to its historical significance in their work.
Throughout the region snow totals from the back-to-back storms were recorded of four, five and six feet, with drifts as high as 25 feet. Entire houses were covered over, identifiable only by a thin curl of smoke coming out of a hole in the snow. In Hampton, N.H., search parties went out after the storms hunting for widows and elderly people at risk of freezing to death. It wasn’t uncommon for them to lose their bearings and not be able to find the houses. Sometimes they were found burning their furniture because they couldn’t get to the woodshed.
Read the whole thing.