Harvesting Ice in New England [DVD]

Before refrigeration and commercial ice production, ice was cut from lakes and ponds and stored for the summer delivery. In this 66-minute video, we go back in time to the days of ice harvesting. Harvesting Ice in New England is narrated by New England historian, Dennis Picard. DVD Review: Ice-Harvesting coverWe start with the Spring Brook Ice Service Company in New Britain, CT in 1926. There are some nice shots of downtown, but we quickly move to the ice pond and elevator used to bring the blocks up for storage. Nice footage of a power ice saw. Excellent shots of the “twitchers” who directed the blocks into the ice house. The next film takes place in the 1930s, perhaps in Massachusetts. This ice house has an especially long elevator and seems to be harvesting larger blocks.

The next film is from Newburgh, NY circa 1933, with a similar elevator showing the ice shaver which removed the “snow ice.” The next short film, from Rumford, Maine in 1934, starts with a horse drawn scoop plow clearing snow off the ice. There is a great shot of men with manual ice saws working their way through while the power ice saw is doing the scoring. Also a great shot of an ice castle in downtown.

In all there are 14 separate movies showing different operations. An amazing glimpse into an industry that no longer exists. I’m not 100% sure, but I may have spied a Ford tractor in one of the scenes! DVD only. $14.95.

Working the Land

In this 65-minute DVD, originally shot on b&w 16mm, we get a full scope of what working at the lumber camps in northern New England looked like, and much more from this film knowledgeably narrated by C. A. Hamilton. It is hard to believe it was less than hundred years ago that pulp wood and lumber were (in some places) still being pulled out of the Maine woods with teams of horses and brought to the riverside or laid out on a frozen pond for the spring log drive. Continue reading

In The Blood DVD

In The Blood DVD cover

Film director Sumner McKane weaves together a fascinating story of the history of logging in Maine. Using vintage footage and images, McKane offers a short history lesson of the northernmost New England logger and river man in In The Blood: Uncovering the Life, Skills & Character of the Turn of the Century Maine Lumbermen and River Drivers. $19.95.

Harold Brock DVD

Harold Brock DVD cover

In June of 2009 I traveled to Iowa to interview Harold Brock, chief designer of the 9N tractor project. It was a little overwhelming to sit down and talk with a man who worked intimately with Henry Ford, Edsel Ford, Henry Ford II, had met Thomas Edison, Harry Ferguson and many other legends of modern invention and industry. The idea of having a tunnel back in time to talk to someone who was there, was an intriguing project to tackle. $26.95.