July 23, 2018
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The ice harvest: A Maine tradition

By Jeanne Luetjen, BDN Staff
Updated:

In the days before modern refrigeration, there was ice harvesting.

Ice harvesting was started on the Kennebec River in 1860 by New York retailer James L. Cheeseman. In its heyday, between 1870 and 1890, more than 25,000 men converged on the Kennebec River to cut and store ice.

By the early 1900s, electric freezers and refrigerators were being bought by average americans. With people making ice in the comfort of their homes, there was no need for such a large-scale operation and antiquated operation.

The Bangor Daily News captured ice harvesting taking place in 1961 by the Penobscot Bay Ice Company on Lilly Pond in Rockport.

Ice harvesting was restarted at Cobb’s Pierce Pond Camps in Pierce Pond Township to provide additional refrigeration for food and drinks at the camp and to carry on the Maine tradition.

The Thompson Ice House in South Bristol is a working museum dedicated to traditional ice harvesting. They hold an annual ice harvest, which this year takes place Feb. 15.

 


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