Ice cutting was a winter occupation of icemen whose task it was to collect surface ice from lakes and rivers for storage in ice houses and sale as a pre-refrigeration cooling method. Kept insulated, the ice was preserved for all-year delivery to residential and commercial customers with ice boxes for cold food storage.
Ice harvesting generally involved waiting until approximately a foot of ice had built up on the water surface in the winter. The ice would then be cut with either a handsaw or a powered saw blade into long continuous strips and then cut into large individual blocks for transport by wagon back to the icehouse. Because snow on top of the ice slows freezing, it could be scraped off and piled in windrows. Alternatively, if the temperature is cold enough, a snowy surface could be flooded to produce a thicker layer of ice. A large operation would have a crew of 75 and cut 1500 tons daily.
Ice cutting is still in use today for ice and snow sculpture events. A swing saw is used to get ice out of a river for the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival each year. A swing saw is also used to cut ice out from the frozen surface of the Songhua River. Many Ice sculptures are made from the ice.
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- KK.org Amish Homebuilt gas powered ice cutter to make ice for non-electric icebox
- blueflower.tripod.com Homebuilt gas powered ice cutter
- HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL MARKER DATABASE, Ice Harvesting
- winnipeg.ctv.ca Modern ice cutter in Manitoba.
- pudsandlosers.blogspot.com, Ice Palace 2 - Cutting Ice, Saturday, January 31, 2009