Winter Sports
on the Hudson

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Many years ago, when winters were colder and longer, ice frequently spread across the Hudson river.  Ice boating, skating, and racing of many types were enjoyed as winter sports on the Hudson.  Ice skating and ice boating became organized activities of the Sing Sing Yacht Club in the 1880's and 90s. 

The Ice Boating.  This exhilarating sport has been enjoyed by the happy owners of ice yachts this week.  The little snow we have had has not interfered with them to any extent.  There are five of these boats now on the ice.  The “Gleam” is owned by Col. B Stuyvesant Gibson, the “Ice Blink” by Col. Frank Brandreth, and other nameless yachts by E Merritt Collyer, Norman Minnerly, Benjamin Sniffin and Elmer H Hall.  It is said that a race is on the tapis [under consideration], which will no doubt be a very exciting event.---Democratic Register 1.19.1884

Trot on the Ice.  On Wednesday next there will be a trot on the ice at the Upper Dock, for horses that have never beaten 2:50; the sum trotted for being a purse of thirty dollars, to be divided as follows Fifteen dollars to first horse, ten dollars to second, and five dollars to third.  Mile heats, best three in five; five to fill, three to start.  Entrance fee ten per cent.  Trotting to commence at two o’clock, sharp. ---Democratic Register 2.09.1884

Skating and Ice Boating.  The cold weather has been with us almost continually for a couple of weeks past and the skating season has been in full blast.  Nothing can more effectively restore the roses to faded cheeks than an hour’s exercise on a pair of sharp skates on the smooth and shining ice of the river or one of our inland lakes.  There was a time not many years ago, when parties used frequently to be made up to go to Claremont Pond or the river and spend an hour or two; but now, for some reason or other, our young ladies prefer either to go to the Bellvona roller skating rink or huddle around a fire and discuss social gossip and eat caramels.  No doubt this extremely pleasant fashion may contain subtle enjoyment, but it cannot be gainsaid that an hour’s healthy exercise is far more productive of health and beauty.  For now [is] the time to desert the fireside, don the skates, and skim over the ice in pursuit of the great boons, health and happiness.

On Saturday last the skating on the river was excellent, there being large fields of smooth ice out in the cove which were soon found by hundreds of skaters who spent most of the day there.  There were a number of the fair sex among them and some displayed much skill in the art.  From the Secor road, the sight of the crowds out on the river gave one an idea of an immense piece of fly paper covered with flies struggling hard to free them-

selves, but a nearer approach entirely banished this idea, as a scene of life and light and grace was unfolded to the spectator.

There was a smart breeze blowing all day and the ice-boatmen were alive to their opportunity and had their sails spread and enjoyed the sport muffled up in warm robes and thick gloves.  The annual race for the pennant has not yet taken place, but will shortly in case the ice remains firm and sufficiently smooth.  There is talk of forming a club similar to those at Poughkeepsie, and other places.  There is no good reason why there should not be.  We have here now several very fast boats and a club would create an added interest in the exciting sport. ---Democratic Register 2.07.1885

Ice Boating.   Most of our fleet of ice boats have been out skimming over the ice this week and the skippers have taken out many of their friends to share the exciting and exhilarating sport with them.  The yachts we have noticed this week were the Aeolus, owned by Ralph Brandreth; Arrow, Col. Franklin

Brandreth; Gleam, Col. B Stuyvesant Gibson; Boreas, Washburne Brothers; Contrivance, Stephen Collyer; and the Flash, Peter Smith.  The latter has been chartered, we are informed by Mr. Harry Belcher of Camp Surprise Indian Territory for the season.  Before the season is over many more boats will make their appearance on the ice and there may be one or two regattas.---The Republican 1.08.1887

Sports on the Ice.  The announce-ment that there would be racing on the ice on the river, coupled with the fine skating and weather and the additional fact that it was a holiday on Wednesday, sufficed to attract over a thousand people to the river in the afternoon and they crowed out upon the thick ice, whether they had skates or not.

In addition to these, there were half a dozed ice boats dashing here, there, and all over the whole, presenting a scene of animation seldom witnessed on the river, for all the conditions mentioned do not often occur.

The racing was announced to take place at two o’clock, but it was four before they were ready to start, and the sun sinking in the west was not so warm, by many degrees, as it had been earlier.

The delay, it was said, was caused by one of the horses entered losing some of the caulks on his shoe, and that had to be repaired by a blacksmith before the race could go on.

The course was from a point about off Crawbuckey and thence down to a point off the Brandreth works, which was said to be about three-quarters of a mile.

There were two races and they were very pretty to look at.  The drivers appeared in cutters, cart runners, as they were called, and in bicycle sulkies.

The first was a gentlemen’s road race, which was handsomely won in two straight heats by Alderman “Glen.” Baker’s black gelding, “Charlie” driven by the Chief-of-Police J W Tompkins.  He had a long lead at the finish and did not have to push his horse.

The purse was ten dollars

  The second race was a free-for-all, in which there were three starters for a purse of twenty-five dollars.  It was won in two straight heats by William Deveson’s gray gelding, “Allie”, of White Plains.  He did the driving himself.

  The starters were Charles S Raymond and N G Mooney.  The judges at the finish were Dr. E F Sheehan, James Burns, and Henry Rush.  They did not keep any time.

Frank S Read was the getter-up of this sporting event, and he succeeded in attracting a large crowd and producing a very pretty spectacle. ---Democratic Register 2.15.1902

Yacht Club Skating Arrangements. The arrival of the dallying cold snap skimmed the ponds and the river with ice on Wednesday night, and caused Treasurer Thompson of the Sing Sing Yacht Club to smile broad grins.  As soon as the ice makes strong enough the club house will be thrown open to the public, and they can find all the comfort necessary to enjoy skating over the surface of the river, at two dollars for the season or five cents single admission.  Tickets may be obtained at the stores of Captain Abram Jones, Washburne Bros., and W I Townsend, where cards will be displayed on the days the river is in condition, which will also be heralded by hoisting the flag on the club house. --The Republican 1.23.1890

Another Trot on the Ice.  There is to be another series of three trots on the ice on the river next Monday afternoon to begin at two o-clock, sharp.  It is gotten up by alderman Glendon H Baker, who promises that everything will be done to make this race a success.

  The first will be a match race between G H Baker’s black pacer, Charles Rall’s bay pacer, and G H Barlow’s sorrel pacer, for a purse of $75.  The second race will be a free-for-all race for a purse of $25.  The third will be a road race for a purse of $15.  It promises to afford good sport for the afternoon.

Ice Boaters Meet Obstacle.  Harry Kipp, William Gustin, William Mill and George Vogelsberg, of this village, enjoyed an exhilarating ice-boating trip to Haverstraw last Sunday.

  The journey across was uneventful, but coming back the boys were confronted with a wide fissure in the ice.  In order to cross it they found it necessary to unship their sails and form an improvised bridge.  The feat was accomplished successfully and they reached home in safety.It is just such little incidents as this, which make ice-boating so fascinating.




Hundreds Enjoyed Sunday Sport on Ice Bridge.  There was a scene of unusual animation on the river opposite this village last Sunday, hundreds of persons being skating or walking upon the ice.

  Ice boats flittered about and the greatest novelty of the day was an automobile drive by Robert Hopkins.  After making the trip from Tarrytown, he took Harry Rowe, of Ellis Place, as a passenger, and together they went across the river, and after circling about the Rockland light, returned to this village.

  The ice bridged the river from shore to shore, and many persons crossed during the day. ---2.03.1912

Six-Mile Auto Contest on River Ice.  Thousands of persons swarmed near the finish line of the first great race on the ice at Irvington, Saturday afternoon, to watch the swaying cars loom out of a snow-cloud up the Hudson, roar past and vanish in another snow-cloud to the south.  Fred Koenig, of Tarrytown, driving his monster Mercedes, was victor in the race, which was six miles in length.  It was figured that his average speed

over the ice was in the neighborhood of 65 miles an hour.  Not far behind him came Carl Mulhall, with Frank Free third.

Another contest was a race between an automobile, and ice yacht, and a horse, the horse being granted a reasonable time handicap.  Peter Walton’s pacer Brownie, under these conditions was pitted against Koenig’s Mercedes and Fred Bock’s iceboat Bell.  On this occasion Koenig met with engine trouble while the result was still in doubt.  The prize went to the iceboat, with the horse a fair second. --2.03.1912