In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Historic Hallowell

Ice Harvesting on Cascade Pond

Ice harvesting and storage for summer use was prevalent through the land. In Hallowell the Moore family operated and ice business for several generations. The icehouse was behind the family home. Arthur Moore Jr, the son of the last operator recounted the trials and tribulations of the business.

Moore's Ice House Hallowell
Moore's Ice House HallowellHubbard Free Library

“It was a terrible job. Terrible! Cold in the winter and cold and wet in the summer. Horrible. I can remember my father in the winter staring the kitchen window at the thermometer and waiting. You had to have at least four inches of ice on the pond before you could set up to start cutting.” The Moores cut ice on Cascade Pond, above the first dam on Vaughan Brook.

“Once there was enough ice for the horses then you would cut holes and set up the loading platform and wait for it to freeze in solid. When the platform was frozen then you could cut the ice with saws, drag it out of the pond and up and onto the platform and shove it on to the wagon. You wanted solid, clean ice, you know, without snow..”

Ice Table frozen in place.
Ice Table frozen in place.Hubbard Free Library

“It was a tough time then. In the winter farmers would come with their teams and sign on to haul ice. During the Depression, when times were real bad, I can remember all the people coming to ask for work. ‘You got work for my don’t you Arthur,’ they would ask my father. It was tough.”

Cutting ice on Cascade Pond.
Cutting ice on Cascade Pond.Hubbard Free Library
Cleaning snow from ice.
Cleaning snow from ice.Hubbard Free Library

“Teams of horses and oxen would haul the ice down our ice house and then other workers would shove it up the ramp into the ramp and stack it. You would insulate it with sawdust from the mills. That would go on until the ice house was full.”

Weston's Ox Team
Weston's Ox TeamHubbard Free Library

“In the spring when people couldn’t store their food in the cellar any longer without it going bad we would start delivering it. There was water running in these barrels all the time. You would haul the ice out and was it to get rid of the sawdust. It was a mess! Then you would load the ice on the wagon or into the truck and off you would go.”

“Then my father bought a truck to haul the ice. That was a sad day for us boys because you used to hitch your sleds to the ice wagons when they made the run up the hill empty, you know, after they unloaded the ice. All the kids would hook their sleds to the wagons and get a free ride up the hill. Then we would unhitch and slide back down. You couldn’t do that with a truck!”

Arthur Moore's first ice truck
Arthur Moore's first ice truckHubbard Free Library

“We would deliver to the Worster House and the markets. In he summer they would have soda in big tubs to keep it cold. We would just pull up and double park, haul the ice around back. You couldn’t do that today!”

“If people wanted ice they would put this card in the window showing how much ice they wanted; a ten cent block or a twenty cent block. You would have to cut it to fit the ice box and then carry it up to the house. If they weren’t home they would leave the money on the corner of the ice box and you would just leave the change. They would leave the door unlocked and everything!”

“When the Knickerbocker Ice House closed at Sheppard's my father purchased the buildings and all the inventory. The ice there lasted three years. Then of course refrigeration came and that was the end of it.”