Hello from frozen Easton! This cold spell brought very low wind chills to the area, and the furnace at the Museum has been cranking away to keep the cold where it belongs - outside! Did you know that during the late 1800's weather like this would be cold enough to cancel school? Not because it was too cold for students to walk or travel, but because the schools could not be heated enough! Those old coal furnaces just could not heat a large building like the old Easton High School during the worst winter days. Many a student was happy to look out their window and see the thermometer hovering around zero. No school! Of course that probably did not stop the chores of feeding the animals and tending to firewood, etc. from being done.
Last week and this week the extreme cold was enough to bring out a few ice fishermen to Shovel Shop Pond. Some intrepid fisherman has set out a shelter on the pond and has been tending to a dozen or so holes. I do not know how successful he has been. Freezing temps also was good for ice cutting. Pictured below is a photo of ice cakes being moved into the large ice houses at Monte's Pond on Elm Street Extension. First used to harvest ice in the mid 1850's by the Marshall family, it was run by Bigney and Monte in the early 1900's before Fred J. Monte took over the business himself. During the cold winter months some 14 million pounds of ice was harvested and stored in these specially constructed buildings. The walls were some 16-18 inches thick and filled with sawdust and/or hay to provide insulation. In the photo you can see ice cakes being sent up a special conveyor belt and into one of the storage buildings. The entire conveyor was built to allow the whole length of it to be raised as the ice house filled. Even with the popularity of refrigeration fresh ice was still used by commercial fisherman and others. Monte's was the last large working ice house in New England when operations finally ceased in 1960. And I would be remiss not to wish our New England Patriots all the best in Super Bowl LIII! You can thank the founders of that football club for getting a professional team to Boston in 1959. One of the members of that founding ownership team was our own John S. Ames II. I am sure he would be happy to see the success that the team has had for the past nearly twenty years! Waiting patiently for spring, Frank