Lydia Dyer, half of the “The Frozen Couple of Owl’s Head, lives on in Maine story and legend, following her experience at Owl’s Head light on December 22, 1850. Five vessels were lost along the Maine coast that night in addition to a small schooner on which Dyer, her fiancé, Richard Ingraham, and seaman Roger Elliott were left by the captain.
After the captain departed, the storm worsened, and the three tried to protect themselves by huddling under blankets. In some versions of the story, it is said that Richard and Lydia passed out from lack of oxygen. Roger, however, was able to chip his way out from under the frozen blankets. With a tremendous reserve of strength, he climbed the icy outcropping to the shore. Once on shore, he managed to reach the road to Owl’s Head Lighthouse, where the keeper happened to be passing in his sleigh. He carried Roger to the keeper’s house, fed him warm rum and put him to bed. Roger begged him to rescue his shipmates.
The keeper gathered a dozen men, who found the wrecked boat with Lydia and Richard frozen in a block of ice. While the rescuers believed the two were dead, they could not leave them and so hoisted the block of ice to shore. They took it, too, to the keeper’s house, where they chipped away at the ice, leaving the two in cold water. Once the ice was chipped away, they began to slowly warm the water, massaging the pair’s arms and legs. Lydia recovered first, followed by Richard, who opened his eyes and asked, “What is this? Where are we?”
After several months, they recovered, married and eventually had four children. Poor Roger Elliott, however, never recovered and died shortly thereafter.