The tools pictured are ice tongs and ice saw used to cut blocks of ice from the Susquehanna River when it froze thick enough – ideally 8″ thick! It was hard work. The blocks of ice at 8″ thick would average 2.67 cubic feet and weigh about 150 lbs (considered manageable weight)! This info is included in the book: Heavy Industries of Yesteryear, Harford County’s Rural Heritage, by Jack L. Shagena, Jr. and Henry C. Peden, Jr. (available in our store).

book cover for Heavy Industries of Yesteryear, Harford County's Rural Heritage
Excerpt about ice-harvesting from the book, Heavy Industries of Yesteryear, Harford County's Rural Heritage

Why did we need ice blocks?

1920s icebox

Into the 1930s, households used large blocks of ice to keep food cold in “iceboxes.”

This photo is from the 1920s. Courtesy of the Sloane Collection.

By the end of the 1800s, many American households stored their perishable food in an insulated “icebox” that was usually made of wood and lined with tin or zinc. A large block of ice was stored inside to keep these early refrigerators chilly. By this point, cold had become the clear choice among food preservation methods, proving less labor-intensive and more effective at preventing spoilage. Other techniques, like salting, drying, and canning, erased any appearance of freshness and required more time to prepare. Iceboxes also presented a new way to save prepared foods—or leftovers—that previously might not have lasted beyond one meal.

from AmericanHistory.si.edu

Abbott Bros Ice House

Photo of Abbott Bros Ice House

The above photo is of Abbott Bros Ice House, located where the Havre de Grace Marine Center is on Water Street in Havre de Grace.

For the local history lover on your holiday gift list, at least one of the items featured, the book, and the Abbott Bros Ice House photo (available at Bahoukas) would make an awesome addition to their collection. Talk to George today.

In the meantime, hurry in to find YOUR favorite items for someone on your gift list. And yes, we’re definitely watchin’ for ya!