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  The Ice Harvesting Process

Collage of ice tools

The ice harvesting process was labor intensive, requiring 20-100 men for one to four weeks. It was necessary first to scrape the snow off ice that was six to thirty inches thick. Then men measured grids on the ice Go to image of of cutting ice from the river and horses pulled a tool that cut grooves on the grid, usually at 22" x 32" to 44" square. The next step was to cut through the grooves until the blocks broke off and float them down the cleared channel to the chute, where they were hauled up and into the ice house. Go to video of ice house

Men used breaking-off bars and one-handed crosscut ice saws Go to image of an ice saw to finish cutting the blocks of ice, which they floated or poled down (like a raft) to the ice house. Each block was moved up a chute with hooks to various levels as the ice house filled with layers of ice separated and surrounded by layers of sawdust supplied by lumber mills as an insulator.

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