Ice Harvesting in Darnestown, ca.1910

Collecting ice with pitchforks

Men harvesting ice with pitchforks and hand saws in Darnestown, Maryland. Photo taken by Lewis Reed, ca.1910. Note the blocks of ice stacked up along the shoreline.

Got ice? Usually, we don’t think about ice very often, unless there’s none in the freezer.  At the start of the 19th century, keeping food fresh and edible was one of the biggest challenges of everyday life. So what was life like before we had that incredible device that we now take for granted, the refrigerator?

Before the first successful ice-making machines were built, ice for refrigeration was obtained through a process called “ice harvesting.” Men would venture out onto frozen ponds with saws, tongs, and pitchforks and methodically cut and dragged blocks of ice.

Refrigeration is a modern convenience that we just can’t live without and certainly one that I take for granted … or took for granted until I wrote this!

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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

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