Unexpected NH: Annual Ice Harvest

This rustic camp is keeping history alive with their annual community event, being one of the last of its kind in the world.

The Rockywold-Deephaven Camps along Squam Lake is steeped in history. Even today, the cozy cottages boast fireplaces and porches to relax, but true to a “camp,” lack some modern amenities, namely refrigerators. That detail dates back to 1967, when the camp bought four compact fridges as an experiment – it turned out that guests didn’t want them, and the fridges ended up in the staff quarters. Every year now the question of refrigeration is revisited, and every year the camp chooses to continue using ice boxes, which is where the annual Ice Harvest comes in.

Each January when the ice on Squam Lake hits 12 inches thick, the Rockywold-Deephaven staff hit the ice for three to five days of cutting.  This is now a 150-year-old camp tradition, and it’s one of the last commercial ice harvests in the world. Numerous volunteers join in cutting more than 3,600 blocks of ice (over 200 tons!) which is then stored in one of the two ice houses and packed in sawdust to keep the 150-pound ice blocks solid through the summer. The techniques and tools may have changed, but many of the faces who help in the harvest remain the same.  Some volunteers have been cutting the ice for years and learned that skill from their fathers and grandfathers who were among the original cutters. This tradition keeps alive a connection between camping and the natural environment while still giving guests the means of refrigeration come summertime.

Try your hand at harvesting ice at the Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm’s Ice Harvest and Winter Carnival in February. This daylong event allows visitors to try cutting, picking, and hoisting ice with traditional tools.

2019-04-30T12:57:56-04:00Tags: |