Ice skating was a popular pastime for Daytonians in the early 1900s.

PHOTOS: The Great Miami River was a frozen playground for hundreds of ice skaters in 1901 

This week’s bitter temperatures have us thinking about the cold and moments of frigid temperatures throughout history.

Looking through our archives, we discovered there was once a time when it was common for the Great Miami River to freeze and become a winter playground for Daytonians.

Ice skating on Dayton’s frozen rivers was a favorite pastime in the early 1900s. Thankfully today, we have Riverscape.

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Ice skating on the Miami River on January 2, 1901. On this day the ice was twelve inches thick. Picture taken from the bank of the Miami River looking east toward the Main Street Bridge. The old steel bridge was replaced in 1902 by a steel and concrete bridge. DAYTON METRO LIBRARY

A series of photographs taken in 1901 capture the frozen Great Miami River near the Main Street bridge covered with gliding ice skaters and horses pulling sleighs.  

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The images are part of the Dayton Metro Library’s photo collection, which notes the river was frozen a foot thick the day they were taken.

The frozen rivers also provided a venue for games of hockey and speed races.

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A Dayton Daily News story published Jan. 6, 1920 called for racers to compete on a river course between the Helena Street Bridge and the Steele Dam. 

Daytonians ice skating on the Great Miami River. The picture was taken from the river, looking east toward the Main Street Bridge, which can be seen in the background. The old steel bridge in the picture was replaced in 1902 with a steel concrete-bridge. DAYTON METRO LIBRARY

“At this place there is a stretch of from 250 to 300 yards of good ice and the surface will be gotten in good shape for the contests,” the newspaper reported. 

Medals, donated by the local newspapers, were awarded to winners in the “the dashes” and the two and three-mile races.