The Charles River Is Strangely Frozen

The ice may inspire strange ways to get from Boston to Cambridge, but Duck Tours aren't one of them.

As snowflakes fell on Boston this morning, consider that the Charles River is not just frozen over, it is historically frozen over.

This week, the company that organizes Duck Boat rides announced that they would delay their scheduled March 17 opening to March 21 accommodate the frozen river. It’s the first year the company has taken the measure in its 20-year history, Boston Duck Tours CEO Cindy Brown told NECN last week.

Only 10 days until spring, people! Maybe this is a good time to tell you that they’re forecasting more snow later this week. No?

“Many years before we’ve seen frozen rivers and cold weather, but for some miraculous reason it’s always melted in time for us to open. This is the first year we’ve actually been very scared about not opening on opening day,” Brown is quoted saying. Of course, Boston’s history stretches back further than 20 years, and a search of the archives reveals that it’s not unheard of for the river to remain frozen this late. On this very day 90 years ago, March 10, 1924, for instance, the Globe bemoaned the fact that the Yale, Annapolis, and University of Pennsylvania crew teams had begun practice but Harvard was stuck waiting for the river to thaw.

The fact that the frozen Charles is impeding Boston’s most iconic form of amphibious transport is somewhat ironic given how much strange transit the icy river typically inspires. Indeed, winter on the Charles has a long history of attracting brave (and foolish) people onto its surface on the somewhat rare occasions that it froze well enough to allow it.

The Globe recently tweeted out an archival photo of ice-skaters in 1971:

An ill-advised cyclist decided to forge his own bike lane from Boston to Cambridge this year:


We would, as an aside, highly recommend you avoid any of these activities unless you want to meet an icy death. Meanwhile, we’ll all be hoping that with daylight savings comes some signs of spring. Otherwise, they may have to outfit the duck boats with sleigh runners.