Dec 24


My friend Pitcherhill sent me this bit of poetry, and I thought I would share it with the new generation of snowmobilers. Reminds me of my own childhood on The Tug.  The Reverend had obviously experienced a Tug Hill blizzard.

A BLACK RIVER THAW

A story is told of a traveler bold

In the days of the Hartford coach

In a big blanket rolled, for the weather was cold
Here he went just as snug as a roach
But the snow gathers deep as Northward they creep
And the snow rising higher he saw
And the driver, he cried to the man by his side,
“We shall soon get a Black River Thaw.”

Then the man in the coach, lying snug as a roach,
Gently smiled, like an infant at sleep;
But the horses’ slow gait never told him his fate,
In the snow drifts so wide and so deep,
At last came a shout and they tumbled him out,
And a sleigh was his fate then he saw;
But a man with a sigh, pointed up to the sky,
Saying, “Here comes a Black River Thaw.”

“Let it come,” said our man, “just as quick as it can,
“For I never was fond of the snow;
“Let it melt from the hills, let it run down the rills,
“Then back to our coach we may go.”
But the wind raised its song, and the snow sailed along,
And the cold it was piercing and raw,
And the man in the rug, from his covering snug,
Wished and prayed for the Black River Thaw.

When the sleigh, with its load, reached the old Boonville road,
Where the drifts reared themselves mountain high,
Alder Creek on the right, buried deep out of sight,
Left a white desert plain ‘neath the sky.
Not a fence or a tree could the traveler see,
As he cowered close down in the straw,
And the driver, he sighed, as the prospects he eyed,
“By George! Here’s a Black River Thaw.”

While he spoke, lo! The team disappeared with a scream,
And the drift quickly closed overhead;
While they wildly look back, lo! The snow hides the track, And is drifting high over the sled,
Then the traveler bold, though decrepit and old,
Hurled that driver down in the straw,
Crying out, “Driver speak, ere my vengeance I wreak,
“What d’ye mean by a Black River Thaw?”

Then, the old gossips say, he arose in the sleigh,
And extended his hand o’er the scene,
And he laughed and he shrieked, and the sleigh groaned and creaked,
And he said, “I will tell what I mean;
When the North wind doth blow, and there’s five feet of snow, And the ice devils nibble and gnaw,
When snow fills your eyes and the drifts quickly rise,
This is known as a Black River Thaw.”

Then the trav’ler arose, and he smote him with blows,
And they sank in a deadly embrace;
And none knew the spot, till the June sun was hot,
And a hunter, by chance, found the place.
Here they made them a grave, where the storms loudly rave, And this epitaph lately I saw,
“Two men lie beneath and they come to their death,
Frozen stiff in a Black River Thaw.”

By Rev. A.T. Worden, Waterville, Oneida County 1860.