The Night the Smoke Froze.

This story was written and sent to me by my father, John Rogers. I look forward to posting more of his stories in the future! Read on…


Karen’s mother was born in Caribou (Aroostock County) in far northern Maine–just a few miles from Canada.

Late in the ’60s some local people started publishing a magazine of local happenings in the “County” as it is still known. They called their magazine Echos. Before Karen’s mom died she gave me her then complete collection of Echos. I still have them.

If you would like this collection, you can have it. As I get older, I would like these magazines saved for today’s–and tomorrow’s younger generation to be able to read about how life was back in northern Maine years ago.

One of the stories in Echos was about the night in northern Maine that was so cold “the smoke froze.” Of course we all know smoke can’t freeze–or can it?

My story is about the night I saw smoke freeze.

One bitterly cold night while working on the RR, we finished our work and parked our engine in it’s usual spot–partially under a bridge. It was left idling to keep it from freezing.

This engine was pretty old and tired, and smoked a lot. But back then, everybody and everything smoked, and this engine was certainly old enough to smoke.

As we walked away, I looked back and saw the exhaust smoke drifting back under the bridge, and the heat from the exhaust had started ice melting from the bridge above. The water dripped down on top of the engine–and then promptly froze back up.

When we returned to work the next morning, the re-frozen water drippings had built back up from the top of the still idling engine to the bottom of the bridge–and the drifting smoke had frozen right into the ice!

And that is the tale of the “night the smoke froze.”

Another story from Echos was about the dog named Barney St. Bernard, and his morning ventures in Caribou.

If you want to read this, you will have to thumb through the old issues of Echos. I first read this story over 40 years ago–and still think of it today.

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About John Rogers

John spent most of his adult life working in the railroad industry. He is now retired and enjoys road trips, watching trains, and writing.

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