Today we enjoyed a living history activity
that was once a vital part of rural New England - harvesting
ice blocks from a lake - courtesy of the Muster Field Farm
and many hardy volunteers in North Sutton, NH. The weather
was appropriate - 10° below zero and a very low sun; but a
good crowd turned out to observe and participate.
First they scraped snow off the ice surface,
then began to cut a grid pattern about 2' each way with a
motorized circular saw on an ice plane. Before this device
was developed in the 1920s, all work would have been done by
Then men used breaking bars and other
similar tools to deepen the grooves and ice saws with
T-handles to cut to the bottom of the ice. They work to
create a channel of open water for cutting and moving ice
As each block is broken off, it is moved to
the end of the open channel and picked up.