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The Great Ice Storm of 1886

EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT, Portsmouth, NH (continued)

Reprinted from the Portsmouth Daily
Evening Times Friday January 29, 1886

The ghostly pictures which today adorn our streets and the landscape are but the reproduction of those of some forty years ago. Fortunately it is only at long intervals that the conditions are just right for the best work of the artistic icy fingers of old winter. While we deprecate the wasteful extravagance of nature in its severer aspect, that destroys the beautiful work which has occupied summer years to bring to perfection, yet all the same the work of the arctic artist commands our admiration. Those who happened to walk our streets last night at the midnight hour, can best appreciate the strange, weird beauty of the scenes. The glittering trees reflecting the gas lights, presented the effect of bowers of diamonds, rivaling the beauties of the far-famed Alhambra, or the most startling productions of Alladin's lamp. Every object was brilliant with reflected light; the telegraph wires drooping in graceful festoons, were decorated with deep fingers that fashionable ladies might be proud to wear; the heavy tassels of the evergreens swung down over the pavements in rich profusion. From the street lanterns hung pendants of silver, and ordinary fences were radiant with nature's silver varnish. Could some of our photographic artists have caught the beauties of the scene, the pictures might serve instead fans in the hot days of next July. Fortunately these winter scenes are evanescent, and will we hope soon take their departure, not standing upon the order of going.

The destruction was universal in nearly all parts of the city. The elms and willows felt the force of the destroyer more than other trees, being less able to sustain the many tons of ice sticking to their many branches. All of this sort of beautiful shade trees fared alike, the uppermost branches breaking off and crashing through the lower limbs, making sad havoc of their naturally symmetrical beauty. The grandest sight and the most effectual destruction we saw this morning was the Richards Avenue, where the elms growing on both sides of the street having been justly considered beautiful, are now left with the ragged stumps of limbs reaching skyward, while many smaller limbs, bending under load of ice meet overhead, almost touching the ground, and making it somewhat difficult and even dangerous to drive through. Large limbs lay stretched across the driveway in many places, and numerous brush heaps, gathered by the city workmen, were evidence of the work of destruction which had gone on during yesterday. The scene, although accompanied by so much devastation, was grandly beautiful, and was inspected by many citizens. Two of our photographers were on the spot and took numerous views, an opportunity for which work may not again be offered for many years.


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