By Paul M. Sparrow, Director, FDR Library.
Franklin Roosevelt loved winter in Hyde Park. The rolling hills and woods of the family estate at Springwood provided a wonderland of fun and adventure. One of the large bobsleds Franklin loved to ride as a teenager is currently on display in the Henry Wallace Center.
Legend has it that Franklin would invite local boys over to ride on the sled with him, with the understanding that THEY would pull it back up the hill.
This photograph of Franklin and his dog Tip would indicate that he had a different deal with his favorite pet.
The large hill in front of the family home offered a breathtaking thrill ride, not without its risks. The bobsled has two small runners in the front that can be used to steer, and a large metal spikes in the back attached to a hand brake that could be used to slow the sled down. There are no records of broken bones. Before he was stricken with polio in 1921 Franklin was a very active and athletic person, who loved to be outdoors, sailing, exploring, collecting and having fun.
When he was a young child Franklin used a smaller sled. He is pictured here in 1887 with his niece and nephew Helen and Taddy Roosevelt. Franklin would have been just five years old.Born on a cold winter day, January 30, 1882, Franklin’s childhood was warm and loving. His father and mother doted on him, and he had every toy and contraption he wanted. Sledding was not the only winter activity Franklin adored. He may have loved his ice yacht “Hawk” even more than his bobsled.
This photo from 1905 shows him sailing across the frozen Hudson River. These ice yachts could reach speeds in excess of 40 mph. Ice Yacht races were very popular along the Hudson, and Franklin was competitive if nothing else.
Bobsleds and ice yachts were not the only forms of winter transportation. The Roosevelt family had a number of sleighs for use when automobiles could not drive on the snow covered roads. This photo from 1935 shows Eleanor Roosevelt with her daughter Anna in the woods near Springwood.
As winter comes once again to the Hudson River Valley, these old photographs show a side of Franklin Roosevelt we do not often see. The playful, outdoor adventurer who lived life to its fullest.
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