A century ago, Maryland was going through a severe cold snap. Sound familiar?
Because of the weather conditions in Oxford (Talbot County), it only took one afternoon for the Tred Avon River to freeze, a feat that typically takes several nights, according to a 1918 Baltimore Sun article.
The frozen river provided many opportunities for residents to test their wits.
“On New Year Day W.S. Dawson walked across the river on the ice. On January 5 four young ladies accompanied Mr. Dawson on his daily walk across the Tred Avon,” according to The Sun article. “That same afternoon Wm. H. Valliant, of Bellevue, the town opposite Oxford, attempted to sail across on a skate boat, but the wind died out and he walked over. Every day since then men and children have crossed the river afoot or sailed over in skate boats.”
But sailing wasn’t enough for Valliant — he drove his car on it as well. “For safety, the auto pulled a skate boat, with Wm. H. Valliant, Jr., on it. On the return trip Mr. Valliant carried a number of school children,” reported The Sun. “Never before has anyone ever attempted to drive an automobile across the Tred Avon river, which is probably 60 feet deep and one mile wide here.”
Do not try this at home!
Source: The Baltimore Sun, January 13, 1918