MAINERS PRESERVING A LINK TO THE ICE HARVEST PAST. For one hundred years – prior to the rather sudden appearance of electrical refrigeration – commercial Ice Harvest was big business across Maine. While Winter's cold remains active in Maine, the Ice Harvest long ago followed the path of the horse-and-buggy.
However, citizens in the coastal Maine town of South Bristol are annually preserving the tradition of the Ice Harvest with a ice work session held every February. This article in the 'Bangor Daily News' tells the story with some great photos plus this video (2:27) provides additional good detail.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bl1hSWzCbvo
Back before our isolated Township got power lines, we stored ice the hard way every winter, but just for home use. Insulated with sawdust our ice blocks would last the entire cooling-season and kept an old-fashioned refrigerator-looking "ice box" in the cellar cool all year. To see if we could pull it off, we actually were able to save a few leftover blocks for three or four years.
If you happen to be in Maine in July you can take part in South Bristol's Ice Cream Social. Guess where they get the ice to make the hand-crank ice cream? Caleb, Megan & Jim
"Ice harvesting was a thriving industry in 19th-century New England. Using large, jagged-toothed saws, workers would cut heavy blocks from frozen rivers, lakes and ponds, pack it in sawdust and sell it around the world. Then came electric refrigeration, and ice-cutting became all but obsolete. But there are still a few places where the tradition is carried on.
"It was a postcard-perfect winter scene — a small, snow-covered pond framed by tall trees and a rustic barn. Here in South Bristol, Ken Lincoln and several other men were out early in the morning, doing what they learned to do as kids. They were removing the first blocks of ice from the pond."
Ice harvesting was a thriving industry in 19th-century New England. But there are still a few places where the tradition is carried on.