A tradition, frozen in ice

Posted Feb. 05, 2013, at 5:38 a.m.
The ice saw is dragged by people as they make the initial cuts on the ice at Cobb's Pierce Pond Camps during the 2013 ice harvest.  The harvest was restarted by Gary Cobb in the mid-1970s as a novelty and and to provide some additional refrigeration for food and drinks at the camp. The equipment on the left — refereed to as a galamander by the crew — is used to lift the ice blocks from the water.
The ice saw is dragged by people as they make the initial cuts on the ice at Cobb's Pierce Pond Camps during the 2013 ice harvest. The harvest was restarted by Gary Cobb in the mid-1970s as a novelty and and to provide some additional refrigeration for food and drinks at the camp. The equipment on the left — refereed to as a galamander by the crew — is used to lift the ice blocks from the water. Buy Photo
David Peppard of Eddington is engulfed in the fine chips of ice thrown by the ice saw while working at Cobb's Pierce Pond Camps in Pierce Pond Township. Peppard is one of the several guides who works at the camps during the fishing season and is a regular participant in the annual ice harvest.
David Peppard of Eddington is engulfed in the fine chips of ice thrown by the ice saw while working at Cobb's Pierce Pond Camps in Pierce Pond Township. Peppard is one of the several guides who works at the camps during the fishing season and is a regular participant in the annual ice harvest. Buy Photo
People use pick poles to guide ice blocks to the galamander they use to lift the ice blocks from the water. With the exception of a few minutes use of a chain saw, the ice harvesting tools used by the crew are the same as they would have been in the 1930s.
People use pick poles to guide ice blocks to the galamander they use to lift the ice blocks from the water. With the exception of a few minutes use of a chain saw, the ice harvesting tools used by the crew are the same as they would have been in the 1930s. Buy Photo
The ice blocks are cut by a motorized saw from the 1930s and finished by hand saws. With the exception of a few minutes use of a chain saw, the ice harvesting tools used by  the crew are the same as they would have been in the 1930s.
The ice blocks are cut by a motorized saw from the 1930s and finished by hand saws. With the exception of a few minutes use of a chain saw, the ice harvesting tools used by the crew are the same as they would have been in the 1930s. Buy Photo
Todd Stevens of New Portland pushes a block of ice into place as they are stacked in the ice house at Cobb's Pierce Pond Camps on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. The ice is stacked in sawdust and snow and is used at the camps throughout the season.
Todd Stevens of New Portland pushes a block of ice into place as they are stacked in the ice house at Cobb's Pierce Pond Camps on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. The ice is stacked in sawdust and snow and is used at the camps throughout the season. Buy Photo
Todd Stevens of New Portland (left) and Chas Gill of Bowdinham wrestle a block of ice on the top of the stack in the ice house at Cobb's Pierce Pond Camps on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. The ice is usually cut to a certain size but the weight of the blocks can vary depending on the thickness of the pond ice. The blocks this year weighed in around 140 pounds.
Todd Stevens of New Portland (left) and Chas Gill of Bowdinham wrestle a block of ice on the top of the stack in the ice house at Cobb's Pierce Pond Camps on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. The ice is usually cut to a certain size but the weight of the blocks can vary depending on the thickness of the pond ice. The blocks this year weighed in around 140 pounds. Buy Photo
The ice saw throws a rooster-tail of fine ice chips as it cuts into the ice at Cobb's Pierce Pond Camps during the 2013 ice harvest on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2013. Camp owner Gary Cobb bought the machine from its original owner in Abbott Village. The machine is powered by a 1929 Ford engine and was probably built in 1929 or 1930. Tending to the cutting blade are David Peppard (right) and his son Ike (second from right) who has has been coming to the annual event with his father since he was a toddler.
The ice saw throws a rooster-tail of fine ice chips as it cuts into the ice at Cobb's Pierce Pond Camps during the 2013 ice harvest on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2013. Camp owner Gary Cobb bought the machine from its original owner in Abbott Village. The machine is powered by a 1929 Ford engine and was probably built in 1929 or 1930. Tending to the cutting blade are David Peppard (right) and his son Ike (second from right) who has has been coming to the annual event with his father since he was a toddler. Buy Photo
The engine-powered ice saw can only cut about 10 inches into the ice and after that the cuts are finished with hand saws. This year the ice was about 15 inches thick on that part of the pond.  With the exception of a few minutes use of a chain saw, the ice harvesting tools used by the crew are the same as they would have been in the 1930s.
The engine-powered ice saw can only cut about 10 inches into the ice and after that the cuts are finished with hand saws. This year the ice was about 15 inches thick on that part of the pond. With the exception of a few minutes use of a chain saw, the ice harvesting tools used by the crew are the same as they would have been in the 1930s. Buy Photo

PIERCE POND TOWNSHIP, Maine — The ice harvest used to be an important event for the camps and communities of Maine. After the invention of the refrigerator, harvesting ice from frozen ponds became obsolete.

Gary Cobb, however, thought the novelty of harvesting ice for his camp on Pierce Pond was worth the extra work. The camps have been in his family since the 1950s and cutting ice was restarted as a tradition in the mid-1970s.

According to Cobb, the guests at the Pierce Pond Camps like the fact that their ice for warm summer days was cut right from the pond. A dedicated and regular group of people — some guides and friends — come each year for a few hours of hard work to fill up the ice house. The harvest this year was conducted on a clear, sunny day with crisp 10-degree air.

The ice house was pronounced full after 195 blocks of ice — each weighing roughly 140 pounds — was buried in snow and sawdust.

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