The Ice Men Cometh

The Ice Men ComethThis archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration.Ambience: Hammered DulcimerIt’s said that the Mohawk Indians used to chop up ice from ponds and store it in moss-lined pits. The pilgrims, perhaps learning from the Indians, also used pond ice for refrigeration. But it wasn’t until the 1880’s, up through the depression and the 1930’s, that an ice harvesting industry thrived in the Northeastern United States — mostly driven by the need to preserve dairy products throughout the year. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. John Brandow was raised in upstate New York, where the farmers tried to find ways to preserve food year round.Brandow: This was a dairy farming area and most homes had cellars which were substantially cooler than the rest of the house. And they would often times store vegetables and potatoes and these sorts of things in the cellar, but usually the dairy industry made sure that there was ice available.Commercial icehouses were insulated with sawdust, which enabled great quantities of ice to be stacked in the winter and stored through the summer. It was transported by train to urban areas, where thousands of customers waited for their iceboxes to be filled.Brandow: In New York City they used a horse drawn wagon and very often the man who was driving the wagon, he delivered the ice up sometimes several flights in tenements, and it was a difficult job. But the whole system, right from the ice ponds up in the Catskills right to the icebox someplace in New York City, was quite an involved and intricate industry, all told.Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

The Ice Men Cometh

Back in the day, how did they store and move enough blocks of ice to service an entire city?
Air Date:01/11/2021
Scientist:
Transcript:

The Ice Men ComethThis archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration.Ambience: Hammered DulcimerIt's said that the Mohawk Indians used to chop up ice from ponds and store it in moss-lined pits. The pilgrims, perhaps learning from the Indians, also used pond ice for refrigeration. But it wasn't until the 1880's, up through the depression and the 1930's, that an ice harvesting industry thrived in the Northeastern United States -- mostly driven by the need to preserve dairy products throughout the year. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. John Brandow was raised in upstate New York, where the farmers tried to find ways to preserve food year round.Brandow: This was a dairy farming area and most homes had cellars which were substantially cooler than the rest of the house. And they would often times store vegetables and potatoes and these sorts of things in the cellar, but usually the dairy industry made sure that there was ice available.Commercial icehouses were insulated with sawdust, which enabled great quantities of ice to be stacked in the winter and stored through the summer. It was transported by train to urban areas, where thousands of customers waited for their iceboxes to be filled.Brandow: In New York City they used a horse drawn wagon and very often the man who was driving the wagon, he delivered the ice up sometimes several flights in tenements, and it was a difficult job. But the whole system, right from the ice ponds up in the Catskills right to the icebox someplace in New York City, was quite an involved and intricate industry, all told.Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.