If there's such a thing as a "100-year flood," then this photo must be the "100-year winter ice storm."
In "reading" this photograph, here's what we see:
First, the photo was taken in Bluffton by Will Triplett. The scene is South Main Street, looking south. The house on the left appears to be 321 S. Main, which just happens to be Triplett's house when this photo was taken.
The photo was taken after Jan. 10, 1906. That's when the interurban electric railroad opened for business. The tracks were laid in the center of Main Street. It appears that one of the interurbans made it through the snow because the only cleared part of the street is the center and you can view the rails. Obviously this was in the day before snowplows.
Our best guess about the two men walking on Main is this: they were posed by the photographer, probably two of his friends.
Notice what appears to be a horse hitching post on the left side of the street.
Photography in early 1900 was very advanced. The negative – probably 5 by 7 or 8 by 10 and glass – was so large that based on today's digital cameras, you could enlarge this photo onto the entire outside wall of Family Dollar and it would be very clear.
It's tough to guess the time of day the photo was taken, although looking at the shadows, one guess is that it's in the afternoon.
Based upon our contemporary experience of an ice storm a few winters ago, we know the seriousness of this event. Notice how low the branches are near the ground, indicating the weight of the ice on the trees.
And, check out the trees. There are so many they are difficult to count.
In addition to this information, this is a rare photo because we find very few early photos of Bluffton taken in the winter. The photographer, of course, had to bundle up, drag some rather heavy equipment outdoors and set it up probably with a tripod, then take it down and go develop the film.