Nineteenth Century Ice Cutting, Part 1 (of 3): Ice cutting was a boom business in the mid 1800s. Tons of ice were harvested each winter in the Northeast portion of the United States, housed near rivers and railway spurs, and shipped near and far for use in the remaining seasons of the year. An image from August 1884 Harper’s Weekly, a patent from 1841, a spot of Victorian humor, and newspaper clippings shed light on the significant ice trade.
The rotary lawnmower was first patented in England in 1830. The new invention replaced the centuries’ reliable scythe in keeping lawns trimmed and neat. Americans jumped on that bandwagon, and lawnmowers became popular by the late 1860’s. Lawnmowers were advertised in newspapers of the day as well as mail-order catalogs like Sears and Montgomery Ward’s.
Milk Shakes, a frothy, cold beverage was all the rage in the late 19th century (though made without ice cream until the 20th century). Machines shook the beverage until the milk-fat whipped and the flavorings mixed in. Ice cream sodas and shave ice (first snow cones, sold as “snow balls”) became popular, too. Victorians, even in the Old West, enjoyed icy treats and drinks in the heat of the summer.
While on vacation with my family in Long Beach, Washington, I found a clothes wringer on display, proudly proclaiming its use in 1876. The labor-saving machinery intrigued me!