The photo provided shows a sign warning skaters not to skate on the pond until the ice storage is full.
During the winter months, our ancestors had many tasks to do, one of which was to fill the igloo. I have an old sign that says: "It is forbidden to skate on this pond until the ice room is full. Mr. Spalding and the company."
Before the invention of refrigeration, signs like this were common. Skating is prohibited until the igloo is full because there is a danger of falling thin ice in the ice picking area.
When ice was first collected, people used ice saws to cut large blocks of ice from frozen lakes and ponds. Later, horses were used to pull plows to cut ice. These ice cubes float to the shore and then pull up the slope to enter the igloo, which is usually built on the shore of a lake or pond.
The walls of the igloo are piled with sawdust, which acts as a heat insulation and keeps the summer heat away from the ice.
During the winter months, families living in rural areas can have their own igloo or share one with several neighbors. Igloos are usually 300 feet long and five stories high. In these commercial operations, scrapers are used to remove snow and dirt from ice. In the end, a machine called marking was used to outline the ice to mark the pieces to be cut.
This marker will move up and down the pond, cutting a series of straight grooves about three feet apart. Then cross-draw markers on the pond, marking the parallel groves at the same distance.
This will mark out ice cubes. Next is a plow, which has a steel bar equipped with a set of sharp knives, which follows the mark and cuts the groove deeper. This makes it easier to pry the ice cubes with a popsicle stick. The ice cubes then float to the shore through channels formed in the ice. Eventually, chainsaws were used to replace plows.
The ice cubes are placed in the ice chamber and filled with sawdust.
Once, ice was a big business. In 1799, ice was transported from New York City to Charleston, South Carolina for the first time. In the early 1800s, there was a large trade in natural ice, and ice from New England was shipped to the West Indies.
Jacob Perkins invented the ice machine in 1834. The first artificial ice factory was established in New Orleans in 1868. In the same year, the first refrigerated railway carriage was built, and by 1930, 165,000 refrigerated carriages were used on American railroads.
After being discharged from the Seabees in 1961, I was hired by a small dairy farm and delivered to my door. I drove an unrefrigerated 1949 Ford truck. This means that every morning after loading the milk on the truck, I go to the company’s ice factory, where I cut large chunks of ice, and then pass it through the ice crusher. I put the crushed ice in a burlap bag and put it on top of the milk. On a hot summer day, the ice cubes will melt in the afternoon and return to the dairy factory.
Later, I was lucky enough to be hired by Pensupreme Dairy, a larger dairy company equipped with refrigerated trucks. This makes work much easier, especially in summer. In addition, these insulated trucks can prevent milk from freezing in winter.
When I was young, I remembered that the ice man brought ice cubes to our house. My mother will put a sign on the window telling the iceman how much ice is needed. After cutting off the required amount of our ice box with an ice axe, the iceman put a pair of leather thongs on his shoulders. He picked up the piece of ice with ice tongs, put it on his shoulder, and brought it into our refrigerator.
All five of us will gather in the back of the truck, hoping to get a piece of ice. Our iceman will make sure that we all have ice cubes, even if he has to cut more ice cubes from a large ice cube. Our ice man is more popular than ice cream man because his ice is free.
It starts to freeze in pure water at 32 degrees Fahrenheit; however, water with impurities does not freeze quickly. Because of the salt in the sea water, it starts to freeze at 27 degrees Fahrenheit. When water freezes, its volume increases by one-tenth. This means that when 11 cubic inches of water freezes, 12 cubic inches of ice will be formed; this means that ice is lighter than water, which is why the ice floats.
The formation of ice on the surface of ponds and lakes protects the life of the animals below. Ponds lose heat from the surface, and when they cool, the cold water will sink until the temperature of the entire pond reaches about 39 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water at the top of the pond becomes colder, it becomes lighter and stays at the top instead of sinking. When it cools to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the water on it freezes.
The water under the ice is slightly warmer than the freezing point, and the temperature near the bottom of the pond remains at about 39 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the winter. In this warm waters, fish and other life forms can remain active in the harshest winter.
However, if the pond freezes and snow accumulates on the ice and stays there for most of the winter, dead fish may be found when the ice melts. Lakes and streams breathe like creatures. When covered by snow and ice, they cannot breathe air and must hold their breath until the ice melts.
During this period, the oxygen in the water is gradually consumed by fish, plants, snails and microbial hosts. Under prolonged freezing, some of these creatures will die when they reach the point where they cannot tolerate further hypoxia. However, if aquatic plants get enough sunlight through the clear ice to produce a small amount of oxygen, suffocation may be delayed.
Structures that pass through the ice (bridges, piers, etc.) will weaken the strength of the ice because these structures absorb heat. I can attest to the fact that the ice around the beaver house is thinner than the rest of the ice on the beaver pond. A few years ago, Harold Haverly (now deceased) and I were examining a beaver trap when he fell from the ice in the beaver tunnel.
The activity of the beaver weakened the ice, and Harold swam coldly. We were lucky because we were able to rescue Harold from chest-deep water and return to the car, where he took off his wet, icy clothes. A few months after the incident, Harold's chest had been painful.
If you are venturing into the ice of a pond, lake, or river, make sure that the ice is at least 4 inches thick and that someone always knows how to rescue people from the cold water. Once in the cold water, the victim only has 15 minutes, and the water temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bill Bower is a retired wildlife officer of the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Read his blog and listen to his outdoor podcast on www.onemaningreen.com.
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