Monday, June 29, 2009

19th Century Ice Technology

Local inventors were very active in railroad technology in the 19th century. Ice harvesting was also a big business, and the subject of a number of patents.

Refrigerating World, Cold Storage and Ice Trade Journal, January 1908
George A. Birch of Rensselaer, N. Y. died at his home during the week of December 22. Mr Birch was fifty three years of age and was well known to the ice fraternity of the country as a manufacturer of ice tools. He was the inventor of a snow scraper which found great favor along the Hudson River. The deceased also owned and operated one of the finest truck farms in Rensselaer County, which was paid for from the proceeds of the patent scraper. He was associated with James L. Miles in the ice tool business for a number of years and up to the time of his death.

George A. Birch, of East Greenbush, New York

Modern Methods Of Harvesting Ice (Refrigerating World, May 1908)
The most progressive ice men throughout the United States plane the ice to a uniform thickness, installing 6 knife stationary planers if necessary to reduce all ice to the same weight ... you sell more per ton harvested, if of uniform thickness. The fact that your floor in the house is level is one of the biggest items for a quick harvest.
Suppose, finally, we have 11 or 12 inches of ice we are ready to cut, and operations are frustrated by a 4 inch snow; scrape it, and scrape it quick. Do not wait until the next day, but, if possible, start while it is snowing, and the light, fluffy snow will be scraped at a much less expense than if allowed to pack.

Well stowed ice, Refrigerating World, March 1908

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