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Primary Sources for Finding Katahdin Chapter 7, Section 4

This Document Packet Contains 11 Items


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Item 9260

Map of ice houses along the Kennebec River, 1891

Map of ice houses along the Kennebec River, 1891 / Maine Historical Society

Chapter 7, page 216.

An 1891 map of the Kennebec River showing the location and capacity (in tons) of ice houses along the river. The map was published in the Ice Trade Journal, 1891.

By the mid-1800s, Maine was the nation's leading ice supplier. Ice harvested from the Kennebec was considered to be clean, pure, and of the highest quality. It was used in many homes, especially in the south, for refrigeration.

 

Item 1226

Ice harvesting, Kennebec River, ca. 1895

Ice harvesting, Kennebec River, ca. 1895 / Maine Historical Society

Chapter 7, page 216-218.

The Consolidated Ice Co., owned by Charles B. Morse of Bath, operated along the Kennebec River during the last part of the 19th century.

Ice from the Kennebec was harvested, stored in ice houses, and shipped to numerous southern cities. One million tons of ice a year was exported from Maine at the time this photograph was taken, circa 1895.

 

Item 5499

Ice harvesting on the Kennebec River, ca. 1900

Ice harvesting on the Kennebec River, ca. 1900 / Maine Historical Society

Chapter 7, page 219-220.

Ice harvesting on the Kennebec River in the 1900s. By 1891, there were 42 ice houses operating on the Kennebec River.

This image shows an ice plow, which was an ice cutting tool used to mark and score the ice.

The first step in ice harvesting was clearing the ice of snow using a scraper led by a team of horses. Workers would then mark a grid on the surface of the ice using a hand marker and straightedge. The grid was deepened using a horse-drawn marker that cut 2/3 of the way into the ice.

The next step was to open a canal, which was a strip of open-water that led to the ice house. Workers could then saw off chunks of ice, freeing them from the grid, and float them to the ice house.

Once at the ice house, the ice was picked-up using ice hooks, and stored in sawdust and hay until shipment. When stored correctly, ice could last over a year.

 

Item 9399

Clark & Dow ice advertisement, Portland, 1856

Clark & Dow ice advertisement, Portland, 1856 / Maine Historical Society

Chapter 7, page 217-218.

D.W. Clark, most notably of Clark & Dow company, operated successful ice businesses in Portland for several decades. This is a 1856 broadside soliciting business for the company's retail ice trade.

Ice was initally regarded as a luxury afforded only by the wealthy, but by the mid-19th century, the use of ice for refrigeration was more wide-spread.

In 1856, Clark & Dow stored 3,000 tons of ice to be sold to residents of the city of Portland. By 1888, the amount of ice sold to the city had reached 25,000 tons.

 

Item 9427

Clark and Dow ice on the steamer S.S. Wherono

Clark and Dow ice on the steamer S.S. Wherono / Maine Historical Society

Chapter 7, page 217-218.

This short note states that ice suppliers Clark & Dow of Portland, have supplied steamer S.S. Wherono with ice for the passage home in September of 1856.

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Item 9401

Letter of thanks from Female Orphan Asylum, Portland, 1856

Letter of thanks from Female Orphan Asylum, Portland, 1856 / Maine Historical Society

Chapter 7, page 217-218.

Mary B. Stover, Secretary of the Female Orphan Asylum in Portland, thanks ice suppilers Clark & Dow for their donation of free ice in 1856.

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Item 9433

Record of ice delivery accounts, Aug. 20, 1894

Record of ice delivery accounts, Aug. 20, 1894 / Maine Historical Society

Chapter 7, page 217-218.

This 1894 account ledger lists the wholesale customers for a Portland ice company.

Fishermen and vendors of meats, fish, butter and milk were the primary buyers of wholesale ice. Businesses dealing in fresh foods required ice to preserve stock.

Included in the ledger is the amount of ice in tons that was sold, payments for use of a horse, a record of delivery days, and hauling charges.

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Item 9398

D.W. Clark & Co. Advertisement, ca. 1870

D.W. Clark & Co. Advertisement, ca. 1870 / Maine Historical Society

Chapter 7, page 217-218.

An advertising broadside for D.W. Clark & Co. heralds the inexhaustible supply of ice on Sebago Lake, and notes that the company is now equipped to deliver ice year-round.

 

Item 9397

D.W. Clark & Company advertisement, 1871

D.W. Clark & Company advertisement, 1871 / Maine Historical Society

Chapter 7, page 217-218.

In this broadside, D.W. Clark announces a reduction in prices for the 1871 season. Ice had been scarce the previous season, which resulted in higher ice prices.

1870 was a pivotal year for the ice industry in Maine. A warm winter caused the failure of ice crops on the Hudson and Schuylkill rivers in New York. This created a huge demand for Maine ice. Large companies like the Knickerbocker Ice Company of Philadelphia decided they would benefit from locating at least part of their operations in a northern climate to guarantee an annual ice supply. As a result, many of these companies built ice houses in Maine, thereby taking away from Maine companies.

 

Item 9370

1889 Kennebec River ice crop

1889 Kennebec River ice crop / Maine Historical Society

Chapter 7, page 217.

This 1889 document, addressed to D.W. Clark of Clark & Chaplin Ice Company in Portland, records the year's ice crop for the Kennebec River.

The letter reports the name and location of various ice harvesters along the Kennebec, including several from the town of Dresden.

 

Item 9369

Shipments of Ice, 1874-1884

Shipments of Ice, 1874-1884 / Maine Historical Society

Chapter 7, page 217-218.

This list records monthly shipments of ice from 1874 to 1884.

Although ice was harvested exclusively during the winter months, shipment and delivery continued year-round.

In February 1880, news arrived that the ice crop on the Hudson River in New York had failed. Companies in Maine began cutting ice day and night. As many as 4,000 men and 350 horses worked on the Kennebec River that season, and Maine produced a total of 1.3 million tons of ice for the year.

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