COOLBAUGH TOWNSHIP, PA — History will be on full display this weekend at Tobyhanna Millpond #1 in Coolbaugh Township for the Tobyhanna Ice Harvest.
"We have a box car here full of ice harvesting tools that my dad had collected over the years, and people have donated more recently. And a lot of vintage equipment that was used 100 years ago in the ice harvesting industry, a couple of power saws, so we're going to have this on display," said Bill Leonard, the organizer.
Every year, the ice at the lake is harvested, but with January's warmer weather, there's no ice.
"It would have been a rough year for the ice harvesters of old," Leonard said.
The annual harvest has taken place at the lake for the past 30 years. There were only three years on record where they could not cut ice.
"We did have 12 inches of ice at the end of December, but in the warm January, the lake is currently open," Leonard said. "No ice at all, so it's a no-brainer as far as we're not going to be able to cut ice this Saturday."
While you may not be able to harvest ice this year, you'll still be able to learn about how they used to do it back in the day.
"In the early 1900s, it was a big industry in the Poconos here in Monroe County," Leonard said. "There were 19 different large-scale ice operations in Monroe County, and it was said it was one of the largest industries in the county at the time."
Leonard says they'll demonstrate ice harvesting tools and equipment for anyone who wants to come out.
"This is a part of our history. People don't cut ice anymore. People go to the refrigerator and push a button to get ice. Back before refrigerators, they harvested ice off of ponds like this, and they put it in the ice box, and that would keep their food cold in the kitchen," Leonard said.
The Tobyhanna Ice Harvest is this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Coolbaugh Township Historical Association will open the historic Wills Mansion Museum from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
VFW Post 509, located at 1917 Goodwin Street in Tobyhanna, less than a mile from the icehouse, will be serving reasonably priced breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
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