It’s Cold, Snow Foolin’

I can see from the weather reports that Cape is colder than West Palm Beach, but we still had ice on our bird bath this morning. The difference is that you folks EXPECT cold weather. It comes to kind of a shock to us South Floridians. Our last ice-on-the-bird-bath experience was last February and our last snow (although some folks claim it snowed or sleeted here yesterday) was 1977.

Here are some pictures from the late 60s of an ice storm that blew through Cape County.

Houck Railroad Cut between Cape and Jackson

This is the old Houck Railroad cut on Old Jackson Road between Cape and Jackson before my dad had a contract to widen the road.

Dad’s construction company won the job to blast the rock of the cut so the road could be made wider. One day he came home in a crankier than usual mood.

It seems that someone miscalculated the load of explosives for one of the blasts and a huge boulder went flying though the roof of a nearby house. Nobody was hurt, but it became a piece of family lore forever after. You can’t go past that spot without someone commenting about “the day that….”

Here’s a more recent picture of the cut and an account of a bike ride through it, including a trip over a bridge I’d rather forget.

Cape LaCroix Creek Bridge

This looks like the new Cape LaCroix Creek bridge on Route W – Old Jackson Road – shortly after it was built. The view is to the southeast.

If I’m correct, the road running along the bottom of the treeline was a shortcut that followed the creek and bypassed the normal intersection of Old Jackson Road and Boutin Dr. and came out near the Heartland Care Rehab Center. The road has been abandoned for years.

I am told that there was an abandoned old house on that road, just after you crossed a steel bridge, that had a short lane that provided an observation platform for young folks who wanted to watch satellites pass overhead. Google Earth shows that the bridge might still be there, but there are trees hiding where the house used to be, so I couldn’t tell if it had finally fallen in.

Location of Bridges

View Cape LaCroix Creek bridges in a larger map

Here’s a gallery of other ice photos

Click on any image to enlarge it, then click on the left or right side of the picture to move through the gallery.


7 Replies to “It’s Cold, Snow Foolin’”

  1. Ken,
    Out of curiosity, the grade shown in the photo of the old Houck Line cut between Cape and Jackson looks steep. Do you know if trains through there had much trouble ascending that slope?
    I write about history at times and have seen pictures of the gasoline-powered “Galloping Gooses” that the line used in the early 20th century to provide transportation to Homecomers in Jackson.
    Although the Houck Railroad was short lived into Cape and Perry Counties, I have friends and relatives who live in both areas, old enough to know the history of their towns, yet who aren’t aware that their communities were once connected by a common rail service.
    Although I am not from Cape, I lived there several years in the late ’60’s, mid-to-late ’70’s, and early-to-mid ’80’s. (In one of your blogs you profile Terry Jones. [I’m backtracking.] After Veronica and I divorced, she joined the Maranatha Ministries, which Terry headed in Cape at the time. Also, Veronica went to Trinity Lutheran school, although she was behind you about four years.) The last I checked, the house we owned on Fountain was an art gallery. Judy Crowe was a friend, neighbor, and colleague. Some of us like-minds met at her house for a while for tea and poetry readings. Judy, as you know, relished in her role as “mortician” for the Missourian morgue. (I wrote sports for the Missourian for a couple of years in the early ’80’s.) Fred Lynch showed me how to process film, although he did most of the work, for good reason.

    1. Steve, the grade through that cut is not as steep as it appears in the photo – probably in the 0.6 – 1.2% range. There was a slight crown in the center of the cut that creates a decent grade, but the approaches on both the north and south ends were in the 0.1 to 0.3% range. My great-grandfather was a fireman on that line and said the greatest issue they dealt with was their notoriously bad trackwork – not enough spikes, old rail, etc.

      1. Thanks, Keith.

        Steve, I asked Keith pretty much the same question when I looked at the steep hills on what we used to call Old Jackson Road.

        He said that the railroad didn’t follow the same route that the paved highway does. It stayed more in the valleys and avoided the steep grades.

  2. Steve,

    I’ll forward your question to reader Keith Robinson who knows as much about railroads in the Cape area as anyone I’ve met.

    Judy was a treasure. I was describing her to a friend of mine while we were on a bike ride last night. Her successor, Sharon Sanders, has a lot of Judy in her and, in fact, lives in Judy’s house.

    1. Sophomore year in HS I had a job working for the amazing Judy Crowe, clipping the current papers and filing for her. She couldn’t have been nicer, but she sent subtle cues as to my work — that sometimes weren’t so subtle
      . I’m afraid over my time there I never could keep pace with Judy. I remained in awe of her. What an amazing person and exemplar to us all

      1. Judy was a great mentor and friend. She’s the reason I tell newspaper newbies the smartest thing you can do is to befriend the librarian. That’s the person who can come up with the background for your stories that will make you look smarter than you are.

        In addition to other duties, I edited the Saturday Youth Page. Some copy was provided by student reporters, some was canned features, and at least one story a week was provided by a local staff writer. To say it wasn’t a popular assignment would be an understatement.

        Judy got wind that one of the young reporters had asked me to omit the bylines on his Youth Page stories because he thought doing them was beneath him, and he didn’t want people to know that he was writing for the page. I was a firm believer in giving credit (or blame) lines, so I wasn’t going to do it even before Judy went all Judy on him.

        I still treasure some of the complimentary notes she slipped on my desk from time to time. Sharon is good at her job, but there will only be one Judy. And, the way things are going, soon newspapers won’t have a Judy or a Sharon to preserve the institutional knowledge. My old paper just got rid of two dozen veteran reporters and editors, most of whom had been doing their jobs extraordinarily well for more than two decades.

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