Ice Ice Baby

It’s perfectly natural to sit at work and complain. Oh, why is my computer so slow, what’s up with this email, are those edits to my work really necessary, why are we doing this?

That’s when you’re lucky there isn’t an old-time Hudson River iceman standing behind you, because surely he’d smack you in the back of the head and tell you to shut the hell up. Those people knew a thing or two about hard work, spending their days sawing away at the river ice and stacking it in warehouses.

There was a time when the shores of the Hudson were crowded with ice harvesting operations; you can see evidence of the ice trade up and down the river — including just off Rt. 9J south of Stuyvesant.

What you’ll find there is the ruins of the R&W Scott Ice Company: the shell of the building that housed the steam engine that powered conveyor belts and an elevator — and you can trace the foundation of a massive six-story structure where the ice was stored. Here are some photos:

I went looking for this smokestack after seeing from across the river in Coxsackie.
The old brick powerhouse is built like a brick… uhhh… powerhouse.
The roof is long gone, and the windows fenced over to keep out curious photographers.
While I was there, three barges like this pushed their way up the river. There’s a picnic table, so bring lunch.

Ice was a huge business for a spell — and back in the day this time of year was a prime harvesting period. Then somebody went and discovered refrigeration, and by the end of World War I, natural ice took a nosedive.

So, if you think you’re working hard today, consider those guys who would go out on the river and cut ice. Their day makes eight hours at the office seem like a walk in the park.

Here’s a slideshow with some additional pictures.

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