During the 19th century, before mechanical ice making was perfected and later replaced by modern refrigeration, harvesting natural ice was big business in New England. Ice was cut in the winter and stored in ice houses to allow for year round distribution. Early harvesters used hand saws on frozen ponds and streams while later commercial gasoline powered saws were used.
This is a compilation of ice cutting from the film and video collections of Northeast Historic Film. Both small and commercial ice operations are featured. Scenes from New Britain, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Newburgh, New York round out extensive footage from Rumford,
Bangor, Hiram, Rockland, Searsport, Otisfield, Palermo, Presque Isle and South Portland, Maine. Trains being filled with ice to ship fresh produce are featured as are horse and truck-drawn snowplows and other winter scenes. There is also a newly discovered piece of audio featuring Edward Johnson describing footage from the Everett Johnson Collection which appears in Ice Harvesting Sampler produced by Northeast Historic Film in 1994.
Commentary by Dennis Picard, a professional New England historian who has also shared his vast knowledge with many visitors to Old Sturbridge Village, Hancock Shaker Village and Storrowton Village Museum.