Natural Ice Harvesting Source: The heart of New englang
Harvesting natural ice became big business in New England during the 19th century. The birth of America’s large scale commercial ice industry began in New England in 1805. Frederick Tudor, a Boston merchant, created the first natural ice business in the United States. He shipped ice harvested on a pond in Lynn Massachusetts to the West Indies. Over the next thirty years Tudor made a fortune shipping ice around the world to places like Charleston, New Orleans, Cuba, Calcutta, South America, China and England. British records show that Queen Victoria purchased some ice from Massachusetts in the 1840’s.
Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth, one of Tudor’s ice harvesting foreman developed many specialized tools such as plows and saws to improve the harvesting of ice. In 1858, the Tudor company expanded their harvesting operations to Milton, New Hampshire. Ice was harvested in the winter and stored in huge ice houses to allow for year round distribution. During the summer months, special ice trains carried, on the average, fifty cars a day from Milton. In 1880, the Wakefield, New Hampshire area followed suit and opened the Independent and Driver’s Union Ice companies.