The winter of 1887-88, already in most parts of the country the most severe on record, reached its zenith with the blizzard that struck the east coast March 12-13.  All business and travel was suspended in New York City for several days, and on March 13 The New York Times observed it was “hard to believe in this last quarter of the nineteenth century that for even one day New York could be so completely isolated from the rest of the world as if Manhattan Island was in the middle of the South Sea.”

"On the 12th and 13th of last month we felt somewhat as if besieged in our castle. The snow storm made it impossible for anyone to reach us from Poughkeepsie, nor could we go to the Laboratories for work. No mails were received for two days, and after that, it was some time before they all came regularly."     Vassar Miscellany, April 1888.