The Good Old Days?

As Westport battens down for our 792nd snowstorm of the winter — and we check our batteries, rock salt and (of course) milk, bread and eggs –let’s remember that this is New England, and sometimes we get bad weather.

Town art curator Kathie Bennewitz plowed through the Westport Historical Society archives, and dug up 3 shots from over a century ago.

This one, from 1890, shows the “State Street [Post Road] bridge looking west during a snow storm.” Taken from near the current site of Starbucks, facing Norwalk, it shows National Hall on the right. Note the overturned carriage (or structure) in the middle of the bridge.

WHS ice - 2

This shot, from the early 1900s, shows an ice jam “south of State Street” (same bridge). That sure is a ton of ice. And check out the trolley car on the bridge.

WHS ice - 1

Finally, here’s a circa-1900 photo of the “swing bridge” — the Bridge Street bridge? Looks like a lot of people came out to see the frozen Saugatuck River.

WHS ice - 3No word on whether school was canceled or delayed during those very tough winters.

10 responses to “The Good Old Days?

  1. C’mon — we used to walk five miles to school and back in all kinds of weather. And it was uphill both ways.

  2. Couldn’t help but notice how different Wright St.
    looked [in photo #1], without that ugly office building looming over town.

  3. I’m sure the town crier galloped through the streets on his trusty horse announcing the closure of school for the day through, a home made megaphone of rolled up parchment, once the astronomers figured the storm was not just a small flurry. We’ve come a long way in 100 years….maybe more so than any other 100 year period in history.

  4. This is probably as good a place as any to ask about a memory I have from my version of “the good old days” (being the 1970s) in Westport and how cold it was – as I remember it, it was cold enough, for long enough, to cause the water off of Compo to freeze out into the Sound past Cockenoe, and two foolish boys walked out to Cockenoe on the ice, which brought the Fire or Police down to the beach to demand that they get back on shore. I think this was reported in the Police Reports in the Westport News (as far as I know that was the first thing everybody read when the WNews arrived, to see if they knew anyone in there). Anyone else remember this?

    • That’s right Jack. In the early ’70’s I remember folks at marina’s along the shore breaking up the ice around the boats that were wintering in place.

  5. As recently as the 1930’s Long Island Sound froze enough so automobiles could drive out to Cockenoe Island,although some didn’t make the trip back.
    My father told me about a week in the 1930’s when the temperature didn’t get above 0 for an entire week.

    • FYI my side of the family The story was it was your Dad in a Jeep that made that trip. If you were never told that my guess is that your Mom didn’t want you to get any ideas

  6. Bob, My dad told me the same story about driving his Model T across the “river” to Cockenoe Island and back. I wonder if they had to put chains on the car tires. Ah the good ole days..

  7. What photos! I rode my bike across that bridge more times than I can count as a youngster — a piece of Westport history and it’s so good to see it’s not a tear down! Yet.