As each new year turned from January to February the thickness of the ice on local ponds was a topic of conversation. Should we cut now? Should we wait for it to get thicker? What if we have a warm spell? Filling the ice house was always a challenge.
Ice harvesting was sometimes a family affair.
One hundred years ago a common sight on the shores of large freshwater ponds around Falmouth was an ice house. These special buildings had but one purpose: to store ice cut from nearby ponds during the coldest part of winter so that it could be enjoyed during the summer and fall. Everything about the design of an ice house was focused on minimizing the amount of ice that melted during warm weather:
The most distinctive feature of an icehouse was its tall loading door that started at ground level and extended almost to the peak of the roof. Below are photos of some of the ice houses that were in Falmouth or Woods Hole.
People in the background of this 1899 photo are cutting ice on Nobska Pond in Woods Hole in front of the Fay Ice House.
This 1902 photo of the train depot in Woods Hole shows a pair of ice houses with their distinctive tall, narrow loading doors.
These ice houses of the Falmouth Ice Company on Shivericks Pond could hold 2,000 tons of ice.
This 1914 map of part of Main Street in Falmouth shows the two ice houses in the photo above.
The Falmouth Enterprise, Feb. 16, 1901
The Falmouth Enterprise, Feb. 22, 1928