Would you like ice with that? (Pic heavy)

Discussion in 'Other Skills' started by Sandcut, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    This year is on! Festivities start at 0900 on Saturday January 28, 2017.


    Updated for the 2017 season on post #74






    I thought that I’d share something a little historic in nature that many folks may not have seen before or even realized existed. While it is not exactly bushcrafty, it does hearken back to a day when self sufficiency was the rule moreso than the exception.

    Yesterday I finally got the chance to take the family to the next town to the south of us to check out a really cool annual winter event. The Tobyhanna Ice Harvest. It is a recreation of one of the larger industries in this region historically. This year was the 20th Anniversary. It is sponsored by a local group who have salvaged an old rail car and ice house and turned them in to living museums, complete with many antique tools that were used on the ice ponds in the area.

    A little background. Aside from the tanneries that were present in this area due to the abundance of Eastern Hemlock, the other main industry in this region was the harvesting of ice during the winter. Ice was typically harvested several times per year when the ice got thick enough (typically around 12” thick). It was then stored in ice houses that were lined with bales of straw for insulation. The ice was then placed on rail cars to be shipped to NYC or Philadelphia to be used in people’s ice boxes to preserve food. If I recall correctly, the little lake that we attended used to produce an average of 600,000 tons of ice per year. The average worker used to make $1.50/day when at full production.

    We took the kids down to watch the show and I was very surprised by how much they allowed the public to participate in the event. They had people cutting ice with the large saws, moving ice with pike poles and loading the ice house. All in all, a pretty cool day spent participating in a long-forgotten trade from that era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries between when railroads expanded across the nation and when modern refrigeration became standard in most homes.

    How the process works. A grid of 2’x2’ squares is laid out by a sled with a plow-type cutter blade on one side that is pulled behind a horse. This grid allows the ice blocks to be uniformly cut for both ease of storage and uniformity of product for sale. A hole is chipped out using a large steel spud bar or chisel to allow for the saw to be used. The saws, typically around 5’-6’ long, were used to cut along the grid lines, releasing the ice blocks. The blocks were then pushed down a chute cut in the ice leading to the ice house. The blocks were carried up a ramp by a sled-type tool that was connected to a horse via rope. The horse hauled the ice blocks up to a landing, where they were then slid down another ramp into the ice house for storage.

    Here's a photo of the sled used to lay out the grid pattern.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a grid laid out.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
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  2. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    Here’s the wife and squids at the recreated ice house

    [​IMG]


    Here's a pic of the small area that they had havested ice from already.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
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  3. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    Younger daughter working an ice saw.

    [​IMG]


    A photo of yours truly pushing off a newly cut ice block to give scale to the size of the saws used.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  4. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    Elder daughter working a block with the pike pole.

    [​IMG]


    My wife insisted on getting a hero shot of me. I do as I'm told.

    http://[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  5. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    Can anyone tell me what this volunteer is doing wrong in this photo?

    [​IMG]


    The ramp leading up to the ice house.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  6. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    The blocks of ice staged to be pulled up the ramp.

    [​IMG]


    The one horsepower engine that hauls the ice and the ice sled. What a beautiful animal!

    [​IMG]


    ETA: You folks would have fit right in with the locals at this event. The Woolrich, Filson and Stormy Kromer wool garments were in abundance. Mine's just covered by my anorak. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  7. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    The guys in the ice house were working hard enough to keep warm despite the low temps.

    [​IMG]


    If anyone within driving distance is interested in attending next year, it is held on the Saturday of either MLK Day weekend or President's Day weekend, depending on the ice conditions.

    A pretty cool experience overall, moreso considering it's one of those things that goes on right in your own backyard. I'm glad we finally managed to make it down.

    I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  8. NCOutdoorsman

    NCOutdoorsman Tracker

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    That is cool (pardon the pun)...

    My grandparents used to have an icebox that they converted to a storage piece they used somewhere else in the house. My mother has talked about the "ice man" coming by to deliver ice. It's funny how we take for granted the things we have now with little thought to the ways our ancestors made do for these same "things". I wouldn't have thought about the ice being shipped but I guess there is only so much frozen water to go around in our population centers without electric ice makers.
     
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  9. redrooster1700

    redrooster1700 Scout

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    cool, thanks i ejoyed this
     
  10. Hawkcreek

    Hawkcreek Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    Very interesting. I've seen ice houses mentioned many times in old books but I never realized it was such an industry. I figured you mainly had to go out and get your own ice in the winter. I never did know what the warmer states did. Thanks!
     
  11. Adahy

    Adahy Kuksaholic

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    Thanks for posting that. I wish our country still used this mentality for everything.

    I used to hang out near an old ice house foundation on a pond. I always used to imagine the guys cutting blocks all day..

    Today when the power goes out in a blizzard everyone freaks out about their refrigerators... Ironic since there is ice and snow... 8)
     
  12. Bridge

    Bridge Tracker

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    That's quite an operation they have set up there. It's great that there are people willing to recreate the past so everyone can experience the forgotten ways of doing things. Thanks for posting this, it was very interesting and enjoyable.
     
  13. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    For a little podunk burg like mine, it was about all we had to offer. We didn't have coal or steel like in Scranton. We sit about 1,000-1,400 feet in elevation above most of the towns around here. Subsequently, our weather is much different. More like upstate NY. Our little town actually has 5 or 6 old ice lakes. Tobyhanna, where this event took place, has at least two and I can think of 3 or 4 more other lakes in the region as well. Some of which were much larger than Mill Pond #1 in the photos. I knew about them, but never realized just how much ice they actually made.

    It was an industry that only could be possible once the railroad came in. Our town is named after Jay Gould, NY railroad and tannery magnate. With the railroad, you could actually ship ice as far south as Florida quickly enough for it to mostly get down to the playgrounds for folks like Henry Flagler and H. B. Plant, who were largely responsible for the development of that state by financing the development of rail systems.
     
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  14. ewtoutdoors

    ewtoutdoors BCUSA Friend Bushcraft Friend

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    Very interesting, thanks for sharing your day.
     
  15. Ron

    Ron Guide

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    That looks like a wet and cold business!

    I allways love to see old ways of working and living being honoured. We have our own charcoalkiln close by.
    Thanks for showing and telling us.
     
  16. jerry

    jerry Scout

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    I kind of did that about 10 years ago when my refrigerators/freezers ice maker went south, for about the hundredth time. Tired of working on it, or buying and replacing it, $$$, I started using the little aggravating plastic trays. That sucked too to so I bought a couple of the large plastic type Tupperware shoe boxes and started freezing block ice.
    Sent girlfriend to hardware store to buy a nice SS ice pick and been happy chipping my on ice.
    Forty years old and girlfriend didn't even know what an ice pick was or what one looked like. Chipping a block ice, five minutes or less, about twice a week works good for me but if I had a house full of kids, maybe not.

    I also went back to old school ways of coffee making about 20 years ago when my electric coffee maker went south. I bought a nice SS old school type eight cup stove top percolator and gave up on, and quit buying, the electric jobs that are only temporary anyway,, just like ice makers.
    I also feel like making coffee, old school way, might be more sanitary than the coffee makers that sit on the counter all the time and hold the same water until you pour more water in. At work about 40 years ago I opened one up, took the housing, cover, off, for some reason and there was moss or algae growing inside the reservoir so never forgot that.

    I also quit buying electric can openers many years ago when my last one laid down on me.
    I'll never go back to ice makers, electric coffee pots or electric can openers, don't miss them a bit. The aggravation and expense isn't worth it.

    And in the deep south, before the invention of man made ice, my ancestors probably didn't really know what ice really was or what it could really be used for,, year round. They might see frost on the ground a few days a year and hardly ever a frozen mill pond, creek or river. Ice on a mill pond might get 1/8" thick for a day or so in most cases.
    They might have read or heard about folks up north cutting big blocks of ice out of lakes and ponds but they probably wondered what all the fuss was about.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
  17. heron2000

    heron2000 Scout

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    thanks for posting that - i've see ice houses up north and have seen many pictures of the process but never saw it in person - looks like a gread day of fun
     
  18. Tor Helge

    Tor Helge Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    Interesting post.
    This was done earlier on a small lake at my home place in the 1920`s.
    I`ve only seen one ice house in my area though. It was built with double concrete walls (open space filled wth peat), hefty as an german WWII bunker.
    They were usually filled to the brim with ice blocks and saw dust, and the ice lasted the whole summer.
     
  19. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    Great story! Around here, most of the folks that I know have a chest freezer and keep the empty spaces filled up with old milk jugs of ice. It keeps the freezer from running as much due to less dead air space and, if the power goes out, you simply move a couple ice jugs to your refrigerator and you're good to go for 3-4 days until power comes back on. A simple idea that I never knew about until I got a chest freezer.
     
  20. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    That's my understanding from here as well. The ice lasted pretty much until the next season.

    The concrete and peat idea is a neat idea. I get the feeling that there isn't a single crack in Norway, Finland or Sweden that someone hasn't shoved peat into. :) (Be nice guys. Take that as it was meant to be taken and don't go get all ribald on me.)

    Saw dust was traditionally used here in large amounts as well. I'm presuming that it was used to prevent the individual ice blocks from sticking (or "sintering" - thanks for the term PineMartyn) together. You'd need an awfully big glass of iced tea to take a 600,000 ton ice cube.
     
  21. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    Can noone tell what the volunteer with the saw in the top photo of post #5 is doing that he might want to reconsider?
     
  22. jerry

    jerry Scout

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    Uereka,
    I do the same exact thing with my upright freezer except I use the 2 qt squarish shaped plastic fruit juice containers and also empty plastic mayonnaise 1 qt size jars.
    The entire door racks are filled with the square type. Like you for when the power goes out to help save the food, extending it till I have to go buy ice which I hardly ever have to do.

    I also use the fruit 2 qt juice containers for block ice in my cooler when canoeing or fishing or car camping and the mayo size for block ice in smaller coolers when out on short back packing, day trips, usually fishing with a short walk to the river.

    I even freeze the quart size with (liquid) coffee and wine for one and two righter camping trips. Serves two purposes, keeps food cool in coolers and when they melt down, drink it. The wine comes in real handy around the fire at night.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  23. Tailwind

    Tailwind Tracker

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    Thanks for sharing the experience. I need to get down to see that.

    What your doing wrong..you're standing on a block that has two sides exposed. If it breaks off, you're taking a winter swim!
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
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  24. JV Rooster

    JV Rooster Guide

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    Thanks for the story. I live in Tannersville Pa an never new about this. Its a must see for me next year. I will mark it down so I dont forget.
     
  25. jerry

    jerry Scout

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    Being from the south I had never heard about folks up north sawing ice from lakes but back in the early 80s I was going with a girl from Chicago and one summer we went to visit her folks in Chicago.

    Her dad had a nice little travel trailer parked on a small lake north of Chicago over in southern Wisconsin. Turned out, he told me, that the lake he kept his trailer at was used back in the olden days for harvesting ice.
    That was the first I had ever heard of sawing lake ice and it and was fascinated by that being from the deep south.

    The lake was for fishing and swimming now days and the water was crystal clear. Something I was not use to being from where all, or most, water is murky, or "black water", muddy too a lot of the times.

    Another fascinating observation, the saw the little girl is using is like, or appears to be just like, what was called a pit saw for ripping boards from logs way back when.
    https://www.google.com/search?hl=en...urce=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=fTAiUYGeLpK08AT3zoGoCQ
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
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  26. Rider

    Rider Guide

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    Very cool

    sent from my dumb phone.
     
  27. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushclass I

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    Thanks for sharing. I first read about cutting block ice in Laura Ingalls Wilder's book "Farmer Boy", about her husband's childhood in Malone, NY, when I was 12. They cut it on their own pond for their own ice house, but the sawdust/insulation and sawing long slabs to be cut off was the same. She even included a joke about two guys who had never done it before, and flipped a coin to see who would have to pull the saw from under the ice...
     
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  28. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    WOW! That is a great looking cart! Did you make that? I would love to see how that is all put together and how often you use it. I can't carry a full pack anymore due to arthritic knees, but I might be able to get away with a setup like yours.

    Please do a thread on that with many up close photos, especially if you have pics of how you made it. PM me if you do. I don't want to miss it.

    Also, I'm glad to see that other folks use the ice block thing, too!
     
  29. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    We have a winner!!!!

    No, that's not me. I'm the ugly guy in camo and a yellow toque.

    Actually, the piece that this guy's right foot is on was actually cut on 3 1/2 sides. All that was holding him up was a 1" long strip on the back side. Fortunately, the ice wasn't completely rotten yet.
     
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  30. hastings

    hastings Scout

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    Thanks for sharing your trip. The freight yard I work at still has an " ice dock " , though never used anymore it is still there and so by the way is the " pig dock " reminders of a different era.
     
  31. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    Heck, you're only 20 minutes away! We need to get a day together with those members who are local. There's at least 5 or 6 of us.

    Let me know if you ever want to go get out.
     
  32. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    Typically, if we have a normal, cold winter, the ice is crystal clear. We've had a medium cold winter with snow on the ice to insulate it so it was pretty cloudy. It won't be too much longer before that ice is too rotten to walk on.

    ETA: Good catch on the pit saw! The saw that my daughter was holding was exactly that. The other industry up here was timber. I looked over the saw very closely and there was nothing that I could see that made them just for ice. It looked like a normal, cross cut, wood saw.

    The one guy working there said that they hadn't needed to have the saws professionally sharpened in 25 years.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
  33. jerry

    jerry Scout

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    Thanks but to keep from hijacking your thread any more than I already have, below is a link to a photobucket album with a few more photos.
    http://s729.photobucket.com/albums/ww298/jerry1945_photos/Trail Fish and Camping Gear Caddy/

    A few comments::
    I just got tired of not being able to carry more stuff to the river for a more pleasant trip, ie chairs, larger cooler. etc. I usually still have a small backpack even with the caddy.
    The frame is from an old fashion type golf caddy that I got off of my local Yahoo Freecycle,, ran a wanted ad and had one offered by a nice lady the same day.
    The wheels, obvious wheel chair wheels I salvaged, and repurposed, from a dumpster dive that were more suitable than the 8" caddy factory wheels.
    Didn't have pneumatic bicycle tires but the hard rubber wheel chair wheel won't go flat,, a trade off
    The PVC, most laying around left over from other projects,

    The cart is good only for trails and not to good for down through the woods. Come in real handy for one and two night camping trips too. Once unloaded at camp site, can even use it to gather fire wood for camp fires

    Thanks again for the compliment.
     
  34. jerry

    jerry Scout

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    Wow, I worked for ICGRR, clerking, back in the 70s and 80s and use to hear the old timers, from back in steam days, 50s, talk about having to re-ice some cars when needed when passing through heading north,, I think usually with loads on bananas out of NOLA or Mississippi Gulf coast.
    All that we had to do was go out into the yards and check to see if the reefer was running okay and check fuel gauge.
     
  35. jerry

    jerry Scout

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  36. Trekon86

    Trekon86 Guest

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    I'd heard that they used sawdust to insulate a lot of icehouses.
    Too cool! Thanks!
    PMZ
     
  37. Northman242

    Northman242 Scout

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    Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
     
  38. JV Rooster

    JV Rooster Guide

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    Sanuct, that would be great. I have two borthers that are also getting into bush craft. Getting ready to head out for a few hours to do some crafting.
     
  39. Shnick

    Shnick Bushwhacker Bushclass II

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    Fixin to fall in after putting too much pressure on that corner piece... LOL
     
  40. jerry

    jerry Scout

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    Sandcut, before you get out of the mood, you need to start looking around on the www and getting good ideas, on better stuff than I did with an over the counter cart and repurpose it to meet your needs. Play around on Google Images using different search words.

    Maybe a used a good used jogging baby stroller,, or one that the ladies hook up to their bikes, can be modified. A garden cart??
    You'll hit on something, just keep your eyes peeled. It'll be like p o r n, you'll know it when you see it.

    Something like this might be a start. Just make sure what you get is stout but light too and go from there.
    http://www.harborfreight.com/firewood-cart-44599.html

    Your arthritis will thank you for it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
  41. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    A little something that came in an email from the folks that put on the show, FYI.


     
  42. Hale

    Hale Guide

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    That is so neat to see! I've had older family talk about their 'ice box' and ice deliveries. And to think that in their time, a block of ice in a box was top technology for keeping food cold. Thank for sharing the pictures!
     
  43. radar3321

    radar3321 Tracker

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    That has to be one of the coolest things i have read/seen in I don't know how long. Thank you for posting!
     
  44. SiliconTi

    SiliconTi Tracker

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    That funny - I just did this two weekends ago as a demo at my town's Winter Carnival. Our town was one of the largest ice producers in New England back in the day - railroad came right up to the waters edge (still does, actually).

    Very cool, thanks for the post.
     
  45. Brainchild

    Brainchild Scout

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    Very cool! I love history!
     
  46. wyobohunter

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    "The one horsepower engine that hauls the ice and the ice sled. What a beautiful animal!"

    That draft horse has to be at least 1.25 BHP :)
     
  47. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    You aren't kidding! I'm no expert on horses, but it doesn't take a breeder to see that that was a beautiful horse.
     
  48. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    Resurrecting this thread because I was looking around online today to see when this event was scheduled for this winter. As it ends up, I forgot that I had the information here all along.

    For those of you who are in driving distance and would like to check it out, the ice harvest will be held either the Saturday of MLK weekend or Presidents' day weekend. That will be January 18 or February 15, 2014.

    Also, while looking around for the date, I ran across a related site from the historical society from the next county to the south. There's a 15 minute old film of the old ice house and operation located at Stillwater Lake. The lake is a couple miles west of Mount Pocono, PA and is the site of the current Boy Scouts Camp Minsi. I was amazed at how large the ice house was. From my understanding, it was one of the smaller ice houses in the area.

    http://tobyhannatwphistory.org/iceharvest.html

    I'll bump this as we get closer to the day of the event or if I get any announcements via email.
     
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  49. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    Just a bump for folks in the area who may be looking to come out. We're only a few weeks away. I haven't heard anything definitive yet via email, but when I do, I'll post it up.

    On a positive note, the temps have been low enough that we sbould have some good. thick ice provided we don't get a warm up. -9°F last night and staying below zero for a couple days next week.

    I'll keep y'all up to date as we get closer.
     
  50. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    Email update from this weekend.



    More to come as I hear about it. Pray for more cold!
     

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