In modern times, most people choose to use electrical devices, like refrigerators, to keep drinks cool. But summer visitors at Rockywold-Deephaven Camps in New Hampshire cool their drinks the old-fashioned way - using large blocks of ice in wooden boxes.

Rockywold-Deephaven Camps first opened in the town of Holderness, New Hampshire in 1897. That year, workers and volunteers first began to get ice from nearby Squam Lake.

Workers use tools such as saws and ice pikes to cut 200 tons of ice in a normal winter. They transport the ice to two storage buildings on the campgrounds, where it is kept until the summer. Then, workers provide the ice to camp guests, who place it in old iceboxes to keep drinks and food cold. Some of the iceboxes date back to the 1930s. Guests are told not to eat the ice. But some older guests still place a few pieces of the ice in their drinks.

John Jurczynski has run the Rockywold-Deephaven Camps for 29 years. He also leads the ice harvest. He told the Associated Press, “Many of the families have been coming for generations, and people who come here don’t like to see much change. They like it to be a simple, quiet place.”

Workers wait until the ice reaches a safe thickness – about 33 centimeters — before the harvest begins. They mostly use a device called an ice saw —a large, round piece of metal with many sharp points. It cuts deeply as a powered sled moves it across the ice. The blocks of ice it makes can weigh as much as 54 kilograms. 

The group collects as many as 3,600 blocks of ice each winter.

Dennis Picard is a former museum director in Massachusetts. He is considered an expert on ice harvesting. He told the AP that ice harvesting began in 1805. A man named Frederic Tudor came up with the idea of shipping ice around the world. Picard says at its peak, ice was shipped as far away as Asia. 

But ice harvesting declined after World War I. Gas-powered and electric refrigerators became more popular. Today, only a few places in North America continue to harvest ice for business purposes. Wine Lake Camp in Ontario, Canada does it, as well as several places in Wisconsin, Montana and Maine. In the Maine town of South Bristol, the ice is sold and used to produce ice cream for a yearly ice cream party in July.

Rockywold-Deephaven is open to guests from June through the middle of September. In the past 122 years, the camp has never gone without an ice harvest.

Exercise 1


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.

storage /ˈstɔːrɪdʒ/ - the action or method of storing something for future use.

  • The chair can be folded flat for easy storage.

harvest /ˈhɑːvɪst/ - The process or period of gathering in crops.

  • Farmers work longer hours during the harvest.

thickness /ˈθɪknəs/ - the distance through an object, as distinct from width or height.

  • The wall is several feet in thickness.

sled /slɛd/ -  A small lightweight vehicle, either on runners or having a smooth bottom surface, used for sliding downhill over snow or ice.

  • We pulled the sled out of the snow .


Exercise 2 


Answer these questions about the article.

1. When was Rockywold-Deephaven Camps first opened?

2. What is the harvested ice used for?

3. How much ice is collected each winter?

4. When did ice harvesting start?


Exercise 3

Fill in the blanks

Fill in the blanks with the correct word listed below.

storage, harvest, thickness, sled

1. Tom sat on the ____ behind Mary. 

2. The eggshell _____ varies among different species of birds.

3.  Her new house is much smaller, so she had to rent additional _____ .

4. An average of 60 tons of watermelon is produced each _____.


Exercise 4


Have a discussion on following questions.

1. What do you think about this tradition? Do you think it should keep happening in the future?

2. Would you like to see how ice is harvested or try this yourself?

3. What traditional crafts are popular in your country or area?

4. Is there a traditional craft that you would like to know more about / learn how to do?



This lesson is based on a news article originally published by VOA.