, Newburyport, MA


February 25, 2013

The iceman cometh


These steps would continue until the shed was full; then the openings would be boarded in. The ice would stay until the next harvest. The hay and sawdust kept the ice frozen.

Where the conveyor sat, a small wooden building that housed the boiler was located. The boiler was fired by coal that produced the steam powering the conveyor. The boiler was manned by a sole person all day long. Because of the small size of the building, only a couple of men could get inside at a time. If someone got terribly wet from floating in the ice cakes, he could go by the heat to dry off.

The entire operation of harvesting took a couple of days. It was often done on a weekend, making it possible for me to work those two days. A lot of people would stop to watch the procedure. On a clear, cold, crisp day, it made for a pretty picture. At the end of the winter, the brook would be undammed and the pond would be absorbed. Driving out Graf Road today, one would never know of the ice production or of the skating. It’s rather sad that era came to an end.


Robert “Boots” Chouinard lives in Salisbury.

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