Saturday, February 9, 2013

Harvesting Ice on the Bay in Erie PA

Cutting ice on the bay in Erie, PA. Postcard courtesy of Tom DiLuzio.
Back before refrigerators and freezers were commonplace in every kitchen, ice was harvested from the Lake Erie for use in iceboxes. Every winter, men would work long hours on the bayfront cutting and harvesting ice.

The postcard above, which was sent in 1907, shows men pushing giant blocks of ice along a channel on the bayfront at Erie, PA. Men with giant grappling hooks would pull blocks of ice out of the water. The ice was stored in warehouses such as the one that was recently torn down on 14th and Parade Street, and then sold to people in the City of Erie. Customers would place a placard in their window with a number showing the size of ice they needed, for example, 25, 50 or 100. The placard designated the weight of the block of ice; 25 equaled 25 pounds. 

Commercial ice companies such as the Union Ice Company also had small buildings called ice stations throughout the city. Parents would send children there with a wagon. They would pay for a block of ice and then lug it home in the wagon. Milk companies such as Sanida and Sterling used giant blocks of ice in their delivery vehicles to keep milk cool for home deliveries. 

Enjoy more facts and photos of Erie, PA at:

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