Ice slabs on the Susquehanna River ‘boomed like cannon fire’ in 1959

A boat trolls between masses of  ice along the Susquehanna River in Wrightsville Friday, January 10, 2014. The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for Central Pennsylvania from Saturday afternoon through Sunday evening, warning that warming temperatures will lead to melting and ice break-up on waterways which could lead to ice jams and flooding. Kate Penn — Daily Record/Sunday News

These Susquehanna River ice chunks are like ice chips compared to past ice jams seen off the York County, Pa., shore. Former York countian Jim Buckner produced Long Level ice breakup photos from 1959. He wrote: “But it was quite a show at the time. The two-foot thick slabs of ice boomed like cannon fire as they expanded over the river banks carrying – as you can see – the local real estate with them.” This ydr.com Media Center photo from this week isn’t that spectacular – and hopefully the ice will not be damaging – but it and companion photos are still interesting and beautiful. Also of interest: Ice upon ice pick tells chilly tale.

I put one of Jim Buckner’s photos on YDR’s Facebook page (See below).

It drew memories of past Susquehanna River ice events.

Bobbi Evans commented: “Ice jam, we had ice in our yard till June that year, we lived by the big Conewago. I was young when that happened, but still remember it like it was yesterday. the ice broke and came up to our house in a matter of minutes, what a horrible noise it made, scary for a little kid.”

And Shirley Sentz Wilkins zeroed in on Long Level: “The ice jam at Long Level? I recall us driving over from Lancaster County to see that. Ice chunks moved entire buildings.”

No one can remember, but might know that ice completely demolished a mile-long Susquehanna River bridge – the first span connecting Wrightsville and Columbia – in 1832. So ice, so dangerous on highway, can be terribly destructive on our waterways.

The FB reaction to Jim Buckner’s photo:

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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