ARROW PARK – MONROE NY
ARTICLES & ARCHIVES | ICE HARVESTING AT ARROW PARK
The plan was that on Sunday, February 19, we would be harvesting ice for the first time in decades at Arrow Park. Hosted by Museum Village – in collaboration of the Curran Homestead – and Arrow Park, the event was to be informal and experimental rather than a thoroughly historical re-enactment of something that was commonplace and necessary more than 60 years ago in the Hudson Valley. By demonstrating these early technologies, we would demonstrate for young minds – and recall to older ones – how rural America lived off the land.
However, over the course of the ensuing winter one major problem became apparent. Mother Nature, being unpredictable as she can be, was not cooperating. During that unusually warm winter of 2011-2012, most of eastern New York’s lakes and ponds did not freeze, and there was no ice to cut.
Undaunted by circumstance, in late February the Curran Homestead’s volunteer crew loaded approximately a ton and a half of crystal-pure ice blocks cut from Field’s Pond in Orrington (Maine) onto a trailer, and set out for the Empire State with it in tow.
Despite spring-like temperatures that reduced the volume of the cargo by as much as 20% due to melting during the 500-mile trek, the ice arrived safely. The participants of Arrow Park’s Ice Harvest Festival lifted bright "chunks of Maine winter" into the "sunshine of Monroe" with antique and vintage tools. They learned about the historic ice trade and its vital role in the economy of the entire northeast. The event included a demonstration with a horse drawn "ice wagon" - similar to those used in transporting ice blocks from the lake to the original ice house on the property.
Participants later gathered in the Arrow Park pavilion for some food and refreshments, along with children¹s nature activities and entertainment. Approximately 90 people of all ages participated.
Courtesy of Curran Homestead
"This IS the dynamic we want to recreate; people coming together and engaging in a common task drawn from our agricultural heritage."
– Dr. Robert Schmick, Museum Director
At the beginning of the 19th century, ice harvesting was the seventh largest industry in the United States. The Hudson and nearby Greenwood Lake were sites for large commercial harvesting. Arrow Park Lake was also routinely harvested. Every dairy farm in the area undertook this winter chore to keep their milk from spoiling, and everyone had blocks delivered regularly to their homes for their ice boxes before electricity was available, and that was as late as the 1940s in some places.
Original Arrow Park Ice House
Orange Turnpike, Rte 19
During World War I, with many American men sent to the battlefield, it was not uncommon for women to handle the delivery of ice in major New York Cities. The photograph above was taken on September 16, 1918; shortly after, the natural ice trade began to be overtaken by production of ice through refrigeration cooling systems and plant ice. Photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.
Arrow Park has been a center for multi-cultural meetings, events and programs for many decades. We welcome the diversity of those that use our property for their events, retreats and social gatherings. Ideally situated within an hour drive from major cities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, our protected forest areas, lake, beach and historic mansion offer a unique and memorable location for a variety of cultural, artistic, educational, healing and business programs.
The property is available for private retreats and meetings, seminars, workshops and exhibitions year-round. We also work with many non-profit organizations and institutional programs throughout the tristate area. From arts residency to healing programs, concerts to nature education, Arrow Park provides a safe, natural and memorable sanctuary for events. We have worked with the NYC Fire Department Counseling Unit, NYU Medical Center, the Orange County Bureau of Education, Orange County Land Trust, Calvary Hospital, United Nations, Sterling Forest Living Memorials Project, Museum Village, the College of New Rochelle and US Army Special Training Sessions for Professionals – to name only a few.
If you or your organization, club or business are interested in more information – we encourage you to contact the Main Office to arrange for a tour of Arrow Park.