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Preparing for a frozen harvest

In this January 12, 1962 photo from the Becker County Museum, an unidentified man uses a saw to partially cut through a field of lake ice, but doesn't cut all the way down to the water's surface.

Continuing our series on ice harvesting, the equipment used over the years to harvest the 300-pound ice blocks from area lakes evolved from horse-drawn plows to gasoline-powered machines, but the process remained roughly the same. First, the snow had to be cleared from the ice field, which typically measured about a half mile in length and one-fifth mile wide. Then, the ice needed to be measured to make sure it was thick enough for harvest. The fields were then partially cut through, then broken off in sections, or ribbons of ice, which were floated down the newly opened channel of water toward the tramway, which would transport the freshly cut blocks up from the lake and into railroad cars for shipment.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 18-plus years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Detroit Lakes School Board. 

(218) 844-1454