When Buck Lake froze over for a week or two in the 1930s and 1940s, some Hansvillites ice skated till midnight. (Photo courtesy of Lyn Peterson)

When Buck Lake froze over for a week or two in the 1930s and 1940s, some Hansvillites ice skated till midnight. (Photo courtesy of Lyn Peterson)

Old stories of icy, foggy, soggy days

Compared to the snow bombs in the Northeast, our weather has been relatively balmy. We’ve enjoyed many sunny, winter days and a very rare and perfect white Christmas — just enough snow to make a snowman, then gone in a day.

The annual average snowfall in Hansville is a mere two inches, and the average low is 46 degrees, but at one time it was so cold that Buck Lake froze over in December or January, the ice sometimes six inches thick and lasting long enough for two weeks of ice skating.

Remembrances of winters past

Lyn Peterson recalls coming home for college winter breaks in the mid-’40s and going ice skating with friends on the lake. A big bonfire was kept burning on the shore near the Fredericks farm’s dock where folks would gather with baskets of food and hot drinks.

“Everyone we knew had black skates without toe picks,” Peterson said. “People who learned to skate in Scandinavia or Minnesota were marvels on the ice. Margit and Ole Fredericks, both Norwegians, skated together as if to music, and we likened them to the artful Protopopovs we’d seen in an Ice Capades Show at the Civic Ice Arena in Seattle. Since the ice never lasted long, some of us skated till midnight under starry skies.” Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov were Russian pair skaters who won two Olympic medals in the 1960s and defected to Switzerland in 1995.

Another Buck Lake phenomenon that has disappeared was reported by E.E. Riddell in the Jan. 12, 1932 issue of the Bremerton News: “Apparently, there is underground gas or hydraulic pressure, for at different times, water in the lake has been seen forced up in a column as high as the tallest trees with a great roaring sound.” Peterson said she heard the story of the Buck Lake geyser while growing up, but never witnessed an eruption.

Many residents remember the Hood Canal Bridge Storm of February 1979 when hurricane-force winds with 10- to 15-foot waves battered the floating bridge for hours and caused the western portion to sink, leaving three-quarters of a mile of open water. It remained closed for three-and-a-half years. Driftwood Key was blocked in by fallen trees. There were so many downed trees on Twin Spits Road the road itself could not be seen. Roofs and sheds were blown away and, of course, power was out for several days. The Greater Hansville area suffered the most damage on the peninsula.

Last October, Hansville had seven inches of rain, breaking the one-month rainfall record of 5.5 inches in October 1998. That year, there was a landslide just east of the lighthouse that took down a large portion of land above the beach, covering it completely. Although 2017 was very wet — 59.17 inches — 1999 comes in first with 62.16 inches. Fortunately, forecasters don’t expect 2018 to break that record.

An unforgettable fog

Long-time residents remember waking up one morning in the late 1940s to discover a schooner grounded on Point No Point beach. Many took photos of the wooden-hulled, three-masted C.A. Thayer, which was beached by heavy fog during the night. It waited days for high tides and tugs to haul it back out. Built in 1895 to carry lumber, the schooner was later used for cod fishing in the Bering Sea, and briefly put into service during WW II, when the Army removed her masts and used it as an ammunition barge in British Columbia. Its final voyage was in 1950, making it the last commercial sailing vessel to operate on the West Coast.

The state of California purchased C.A. Thayer in 1957 and, after restoration, opened it to the public. It now resides at the San Francisco Maritime Museum, and in 1984 was designated a National Historic Landmark.

— Annette Wright writes Hansville Happenings for Kingston Community News. Contact her at wrightannette511@gmail.com.

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