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Making ice

Camps store 100 tons of ice for campers' antique ice boxes

SANDWICH -- Though it's the middle of a messy, cold winter, it's been perfect weather for making ice.

So say the ice harvesters at Rockywold-Deephaven Camps, who on Saturday completed another successful harvest, which is done for another season entirely — summer.

A dozen or so workers use electric saws to cut 12-by-15-inch blocks from ice near the camp's property on Big Squam Lake's Squaw Cove.

Their three-day harvest prepares more than 3,600 ice blocks or about 100 tons of ice for the camp's summer customers, who prefer using antique ice boxes instead of refrigerators.

The cottage business has been conducting the ice harvest, which the company calls a "ritual," for its camp residents for more than 100 years. Before refrigerators became common, ice harvesting was necessary for refrigeration during warm months, and campers didn't want to change.

"We were going to stop doing it about 20 years ago, but the customers still wanted it," said Norman Lyford, 87, as he used a long ice pick to move freshly cut blocks along a path in the ice to a small assembly line where the blocks are pushed into a truck to be taken to one of two ice houses on the camp's property. A circular saw mounted on a sled is used to cut the ice.

"In the old days, people would get their ice cubes for their drinks from these blocks," said Lyford, who just completed his 69th harvest.

"I can't say it's fun; it's work that has to be done," he said.

Actually, this year's harvest was unique. It was one of the earliest starts they've had.

"The ice is very nice; it's been very cold this winter so far," said John Jurczynski, a Rockywold-Deephaven employee who runs the operation.

Last year's early winter warmth pushed the harvest to the beginning of February. "Everyone said it was global warming last winter," Jurczynski said


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