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Ice Harvest

As the first day of summer is coming up, let’s talk about Ice Harvesting!

Many sawmills would harvest the ice from their log pond during the winter freeze. In the days before mechanical refrigeration was common, ice harvesting was a major industry. Ice that was taken from frozen ponds would be stored in ice houses using straw or sawdust, which was plentiful in a sawmill, for insulation. When properly stored, the blocks of ice could last until the next winter. Before mechanical refrigerators, many homes had iceboxes that could be supplied all year long to help keep food cool.

The Lumber Museum has some ice harvesting tools in it’s collection to highlight this activity.

You can see many of these tool in action in this film from 1919 showing Pennsylvania ice harvesting at Pocono Manor.

(Public Domain courtesy of the Prelinger Archives)