DEWITTVILLE, NY – The Chautauqua County Historical Society’s final lecture for 2016 will take attendees to the shore of Chautauqua Lake for a special presentation on the history of ice harvesting.
Local historian and author Fletcher “Ned” Ward of Bemus Point has spent a number of years researching many events, attractions and industries found on and around Chautauqua Lake. Among those topics is ice harvesting, a thriving industry that spanned from about 1870 to the 1930s. Earlier this year, Ward released his third book entitled “The History of Chautauqua Lake’s Ice Industry” and which includes much of the research that will be featured during the upcoming lecture.
During its heyday, the ice harvesting and ice company industry was the nation’s sixth largest industry. Locally, Chautauqua Lake was the primary source of ice for the lake’s many hotels, breweries, ice cream factories and doctors. The ice would be cut and stored during the winter months and then distributed during the spring, summer and even into the following fall.
In addition to being used by local businesses and residents, the ice was shipped to areas of Pennsylvania and Ohio and put to use by businesses in those areas. The ice was also used to help keep meat shipments cool as they moved from large-scale meat processing centers in the Midwest to areas along the Atlantic coast, such as New York City.
By the 1930s the age of refrigeration had arrived in most businesses and homes, making the ice harvesting and shipping business obsolete.
Ward will present his research findings on this long-defunct industry during a program scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12 at the YMCA’s Camp Onyahsa Lodge, 5411 E Lake Rd (Rt. 430), Dewittville, NY. In addition to his presentation, copies of his book will also be on hand and available for purchase and signing by the author.
About the Society: The Chautauqua County Historical Society was established in 1883 and is the oldest historical society in Chautauqua County. Since 1951, the organization has been based out of the historic McClurg Mansion (built in 1818) in Westfield, N.Y. Annual Membership rates start at just $20. All members are given free access to the museum year-round and a subscription to the quarterly “Time Lines” newsletter. For more information, call 716-326-2977.