Saturday, June 27, 2009

June 26, 1909 - Demise of Hudson Ice Harvesting

100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

Beaverwyck House Razed
The monster house of the American Ice Co., located on Beaverwyck Island, opposite Upper Rensselaer, has been razed. The company has no further use for the house, which has not been filled in two years. Successful ice cutting on the Upper Hudson will be ancient history in the next ten years.

Backstory: This Day in 1908 in The Record: Feb. 8
The American Ice Company has abruptly halted ice harvesting activity in the vicinity of Albany, putting at least 70 men out of work... American Ice was in the middle of a busy ice harvesting season, having just finished filling their Beverwyck Island ice house with 10,000 tons of excellent ice, averaging between ten and twelve inches in thickness. The stop order comes as American Ice was about to begin work filling an even larger facility, the Mould House in Rensselaer, with 40,000 tons of ice.
Agitation in favor of legislation averse to the cutting of ice from the Hudson river in this vicinity may have had something to do with bringing about the suspension of operations... Downstate consumers have criticized Albany-area ice in recent years, accusing American Ice of harvesting ice from areas tainted by sewage and industrial waste.

(Click Image to Enlarge)
H. D. Mould's House in Rensselaer, N.Y. from Refrigerating World, Cold Storage and Ice Trade Journal

Refrigerating World - April 1908, Minutes of an Empire State Ice Association meeting
Last year there started in Albany a manufacturing concern to manufacture ice for use in the city. ... They have a half page advertisement in the local daily papers which begins in the largest most bold faced type which the printer can furnish with these words "Hudson River Ice Condemned by the State Commissioner of Health". ... Well it is pretty tough business when a man or a company has to build up its business by tearing down others or by throwing mud or insinuation against another.
Refrigerating World, May 1908
None of the Albany ice dealers will probably be pleased over the recent report of the Sanitary Engineering division of the State Department of Health ... where it is alleged that the waters of the Hudson are badly polluted in the vicinity of Albany, Troy, Rensselaer, Schenectady, etc. ... There are forty one ice houses in this territory which were "condemned".

Report: Commissioner Porter on Hudson Ice Again

1 comment:

forgingahead said...

I found this post to be fascinating. I used to work for Smith and Mahoney (a now defunct engineering firm in Albany). Ben Smith had originally come to Albany in the 20's following the cholera outbreak in Albany that resulted from the City taking its drinking water directly from the Hudson (at the Albany Pumphouse, now a brew pub). The water was pumped up tothe reservoir at the top of Clinton Ave. (now Bleecker Stadium). Ben Smith was responsible for the development of Albany's current water supply system with reservoirs in the hill towns, a filtration plant at Fuera Bush, a huge supply conduit that crosses the city to the Loudonville reservoirs from whence treated water in stored and distributed to the rest of the city.

So to read of ice tainted with sewage reminded me of the problems that were rampant in the early 20th century. But even today (unless fixed in recent years) Albany still has combined sewers so that when there is a lot of rain, raw sewage is still dumped into the Hudson River (right by the Corning Preserve too!).