Below are some excerpts from The Ice Crop ©1892 This industry developed throughout the 19th century and today is still a viable industry in the U.S. Tomorrow, I'll post some information on the tools they used.
An Historical, Sketch.
The Origin of the Ice Business in the United States—Its Wonderful Development Commercially and in the Manifold Uses of Ice—A Pen Picture of a Modern Ice Harvest.
Prior to 1805, there was no regularly conducted traffic in ice, in this country. In the winter of 1805-6, a supply was secured at Boston, Mass., and the following summer a cargo was despatched to the West Indies, where yellow fever was then raging.
Domestic And Export Trade were both of very slow growth, and, in 1825, the ice consumed in the United States and exported to foreign ports was probably less than fifty thousand tons. During the thirty years following, the consumption of ice increased more rapidly, and the enterprise of the shippers carried the fame of Boston ice all around the world. Cargoes were consigned to London, to the East Indies, and the West Indies, Rio de Janerio, Calcutta, China, Japan, and Australia.
Cutting And Storing Ice.
The Science of Ice Formation—Preparing the Ice Field for the Harvest—Getting Rid of Snow—Sudden Thaws and How to Remedy Their Damage—Tools and Implements Used— Thickness of Ice—Care of Ice Tools—Filling the Ice House —Closing it up and Caring for It—Shipping Ice from the Field.
With the advent of a sharp freeze, attention is directed to the ice field, from which a harvest is hoped for at no distant day. The purification of the water has been given attention before this time, together with all preliminaries relating to the plant in its various and complex features. The weather now determines the lot of the ice dealer. As the cold breezes whistle over the water, stirring it into ripples, and breaking its surface into waves, a wonderful change is rapidly transforming its liquid pearls into flinty diamonds. Gradually the heat in the water is radiated into the air. As fast as the surface water is cooled, it is condensed, and sinks to the bottom, its place being taken by the warmer and lighter water from beneath. Gradually the entire mass reaches the point of maximum density, at 39i° F. Below this temperature, until it reaches 31° F., water expands as it is cooled. Now the surface water no longer sinks as it grows colder, being rendered lighter by expansion than the water beneath. Upon reaching 82°, convection, or freezing, takes place, and the surface assumes the solid form.
Cake Of The Ice Field.—From this time until the crop is stored in the ice house, the ice dealer devotes his energies to the care of the ice field. Special situations develop special duties and requirements, which the alert dealer studies with care. If the ice is on a running stream, the possible pollution of its higher levels will be carefully guarded against, and also all rubbish removed from the surface of the field. Sticks and stones bedded in the ice hinder the work and damage the keen edges of the cutting tools. Motion in the water is necessary to promote the growth of the ice, and, when the ice is sufficiently heavy, traveling over the surface, or other jarring, is beneficial. It has been found that where a roadway has been opened across an ice field, and the travel over it considerable, the ice was thicker along the roadway than at other places on the field.
On inclosed lakes or mill ponds, a gentle current induced in the water promotes the growth of the ice materially. The air is expelled from the water during freezing, if opportunity is found for it to dd so. Unless this is done, the ice is cloudy. Agitation of the water assists the escape of the air ; hence it is that ice from running streams is usually clearer and more brilliant than pond or lake ice. An outlet afforded to the landlocked ponds and lakes is often beneficial during ice-making weather. Too rapid a current, however, will retard growth, and a gentle motion diffused over the entire field produces the best results.
Packing Ice In The House.—The method employed in arranging the ice cakes varies in different parts of the country ( The important thing to keep in mind is the amount of good, merchantable ice possible to be gotten out of the house, as it is shipped away during the warm season. This does not depend upon how much can be crowded in, but upon the packing and arranging of the cakes. Two things are to be observed in this, prevention of waste by melting, and ease in loosening or detaching the cakes, as they are taken out. The following method may be taken as an example, and varied as good cause is found for so doing.
If the ice is thin, place the two first courses on edge, and pack as closely together as practicable. The succeeding courses place in flat, or in the same position they occupy on the water. Arrange the cakes one directly above the other, and leave a space of two inches on all four sides or edges. In every five or six courses, joints are broken. The last four or five courses on top are placed, each one, to break joints, and closely placed at edges. The reasons for this arrangement are, that the ice on the floor of the house wastes rapidly, and, by placing the cakes on edge, the minimum loss is obtained, and the succeeding cakes, placed one above the other, and free on the edges, having only the top and bottom surfaces in contact, the minimum breakage and labor, in loosening cakes, is obtained; also, by breaking the joints every few courses, the circulation of air currents, which is very destructive to the ice, is shut off, and, finally, the top courses close in the mass thoroughly, and prevent the top covering from sifting down into the body of the ice.
The chapters on loss of ice by wastage in the house, and the construction of ice houses, will present more fully some of the considerations bearing upon the methods of stowing the ice.
In some localities the ice cakes are all placed upon edge. Among the advantages claimed for this method are, ease in loosening and taking out the cakes, and the closer packing secures more ice, where storage room is limited. There is a risk of damage to the ice house, by the pressure of the ice against the side walls, when packed in this manner. The edges, being uneven, tend to throw the ice out of plumb, or to give the whole mass an inclination in one direction. In stowing, care is required to keep the spaces between the cakes free from chips or broken ice.
No more trimming than is necessary should be done in the house, and the crowding of cakes together on the runs, and in sliding them to their places, should be avoided. Broken cakes should not be allowed to come into the house, and, if cakes are broken in placing, they should be thrown out of the house.
Experience and practice, in the handling of runs and managing the progress of the stowing of the ice cakes, attest the value of system in this department. To do the necessary work with as much despatch as possible requires close attention to details, and watchfulness, that the labor and efforts of the men are properly directed and distributed.