An icy blast from the past

Published 4:23 pm Saturday, February 22, 2020

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LAPLACE — The coldest day on record in Louisiana was 121 years ago, on Feb. 13, 1899. Temperatures dropped to -16 degrees Fahrenheit in Northern Louisiana, and the Mississippi River froze over even in the bottom portion of the state, clogging the river with ice that disrupted ships for weeks.
Olide Paul Schexnayder (1871-1944) captured the spectacle in his historic photograph, “Edgard Residents Viewing Ice in the Mississippi River.” This photo and other work by Schexnayder is housed in the Louisiana State Museum.
Schexnayder’s collection documents rural life along the German Coast at the turn of the 20th Century. He was born in Edgard and started photographing life around him in the early 1890s. Children, food, pets and family outings were among his subjects. His photography also documented the life of African Americans during the time period.
Later in life, Schexnayder put down his camera and established a new career as an optician. His photography is available for viewing online at