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Navigating Cut Ice
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The natural ice industry created a number of specialized tools. The man standing over the block of ice is holding the steering bar of a grapple. The grapple is attached by chain to a horse that hauls the block onto the ramp. The man ready to guide the block onto the ramp is holding a set of ice tongs. The men here are using a horse to hoist their ice. That would have been typical for a small ice harvesting operation, but large ice operations of the late 19th century used steam power to haul ice blocks. Large warehouses stood next to rivers and ponds ready to hold ice until it could be sent to the city. Unlike the blocks here, ice blocks would have had the snow shaved from their surface before they were harvested. The ice industry had to make standard-sized blocks to fit into the nation's ice boxes.
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