Monthly Archives: August 2015


Intriguing Historical Artifacts – The Ice Plow

A vintage Imperial ice plow on display at the South St. Seaport Museum in New York City

What the heck is an ice plow?  In the 19th century it was a key piece of equipment in the booming business of ice harvesting. Before the invention of mechanical refrigeration and machine-made ice, Americans annually consumed millions of tons of ice harvested from ponds and lakes. The ice plow, fitted with a series of sharp blades (where the runners on a typical sled were located), made deep cuts in ice as it was pulled by horses. After completing a checkerboard pattern of cuts, men armed with crowbar-like tools pried the blocks apart and floated them on the water to storage facilities. From there the ice was transported to distribution centers for wholesale and retail sale.
Did you know: the #2 export by weight from the United States (cotton was #1) in the 1850s was ice?
Read more here about the man who created the ice harvesting business.

The Imperial Ice Plow company was a leading manufacturer of ice harvesting equipment in the 19th century.