MAINE 200 — Maine is well-known for its natural resources and the early industries that branched from them. One of these industries was the ice industry.
In the early 1800s, Maine became a large producer of ice which was shipped to warmer regions and used in iceboxes to help keep food and dairy products cold. The ice industry required a small amount of capital such as horses, basic tools and manual labor, which helped Maine to grow industrially without having to rely on large amounts of capital to start with.
The Kennebec River was especially famous for its ice production. It alone produced more than 1.5 million tons in 1882. Thousands of workers and horses made the ice industry profitable.
The peak of the industry was short-lived, however. By early 1900s, most homes began purchasing refrigerators or using mechanically made ice. Technological advancement pushed the industry aside, but it was a major stepping stone Maine’s early economy.
(Vintage Photo Credit: Collections of Maine Historical Society, courtesy of VintageMaineImages.com, Item No.1226, 1203).