Excerpt from American Agriculturist, Vol. XXVIII, No.
12, December 1869
The Ice Harvest
But few are aware of the importance of the ice harvest.
It has been derisively said of Massachusetts that her
principal productions were granite and ice. The first
shipments of ice to India and other tropical countries
were made from Boston, and the ice trade has had much
to do, directly and indirectly, with the prosperity
of that city.
The ice trade is by no means an important one to Boston
only, but in New York and near every considerable town
and city there are large amounts invested in the ice
business, and employment given to thousands of laborers.
The immense demand by New York City for ice is met by
several associations, the largest of which is the Knickerbocker
Ice Co., which draws its supplies from Rockland Lake.
This lake is about half a mile west of the Hudson River,
and a short distance above the town of Nyack; its water
is remarkably pure and clear, and it is so situated
as to afford unusual facilities for gathering and shipping
the ice. One of our artists visited this locality during
the harvest of last year, and presents a series of sketches,
which show the different steps in securing the crop.
The ice is first cleared, if necessary, of fallen snow,
as shown in figure 1.
V-shaped snow-plows and common road-scrapers are used.
Figure 2 shows the processes of marking and cutting.
The cleared surface is marked by an iron point, as a
guide for the ice-plow, which is a blade with coarse
teeth, like a series of plane-irons placed one after
another. This, when drawn across the ice, makes a deep
groove or furrow. Attached to one side of the plow is
a guide, which runs in one groove, and serves to mark
the distance of the next one. When the ice is sufficiently
grooved by the plow, it may be split up by the use of
an iron bar terminated below by a heavy chisel. A saw
with coarse teeth is also used for dividing the ice;
it has a cross-handle, and is worked by one man.