Believe it or not, ice used to be a product from Maine and New Hampshire.
On the Sunday of President's Day weekend, there is a traditional ice harvest at Thompson Ice House Museum in South Bristol, Maine.
Even though it was a bit of a drive for us, we really wanted to see the harvest at least once.
Fresh water blocks of ice were used for preserving food before refrigeration.
The ice from this ice house was sold to local families, businesses and fishermen, plus shipped on clipper ships to Boston, New York and the Caribbean.
When we arrived at 10:30 a.m., the ice house was already partially filled, to about 4 feet high (3.3 meters).
The ice house is right next to the ice pond.
This motorized cutter was used to cut the ice longways. (Before motors, horse-drawn cutters were used.)
Traditionally, the ice would be harvested as soon as it was 12 inches thick.
Handsaws cut the short side of the ice blocks.
Pond ice was prized because it was dense and long-lasting.
Even today, the ice in the ice house will last until the beginning of September.
The far end of the pond is open to skaters and hockey players. That area of the pond is fed by springs, so the ice is a bit softer and is not harvested.
We did see a few dogs at the event, although Bailey waited in the car.
After the ice is cut, it is pushed along this channel.
Then it travels on this adjustable ramp
into the ice house. It moves very quickly down the ramp into the ice house.
A pickup truck was providing the power to hoist the ice, however horses would have been used originally.
A group of ice wranglers waits inside the house to catch the blocks and position them.
Luckily for us, they take breaks between layers, or the ice house would have been full before we arrived.
Historically, it took a team of 18 men 3 full days to harvest the ice and fill the ice house. The horse drawn cutters had to make multiple passes across the ice for the long cuts in the ice.
A small museum of various ice tools fills one side of the ice house.
The wooden plow would have been pulled by horses to keep the ice pure and snow-free. (Snowy ice is less dense and doesn't last as long).
If you have ice tools to donate to the ice house museum, they'd love to have them!
This ice will be sold to commercial fishermen, as well as used to chill ice cream at the annual ice cream social over the July 4 weekend.
There were snacks, mugs and T-shirts for sale, plus a few signs explaining how the ice house worked.
Between this visit to the ice house, the igloo in Exeter, and the icy walking trails behind our house, I think ice has been my theme for this week!
More information to help you plan a visit:
Boston Globe Article
2010 listing on MaineToday.com