COXSACKIE — On Sunday, Sept. 9, the Bronck Museum near Coxsackie is pleased to present “Icy Endeavors,” the second of its 2018 Sunday Along the River programs. Speaker Richard Muggeo will explore the cool history of Greene County’s commercial ice industry.
In February 1828, the sloop Ancona loaded ice at Coxsackie and headed down river to New York. This was the humble beginning of what would become Greene County’s iconic commercial ice industry.
By the 1850s river towns from New Baltimore in the north to Smith’s Landing in the south had joined in the rapidly expanding ice industry. New Baltimore built its first icehouse for the winter season of 1853-54. Athens, Catskill and Smith’s Landing soon built with their own icehouses.
Winter was a time when farmers and otherwise idle laborers were readily available to work the ice fields on the frozen Hudson. Typically, the ice harvest lasted two or three weeks, and provided a considerable infusion of cash into the local economy. Schools often closed during the ice harvest to allow older boys to work the ice fields with their fathers.
In the 1870s and 1880s most river towns had multiple icehouses. The Greene County ice harvest of 1898-99, one of the largest on record, yielded four million tons of ice. During the first decades of the 20th century the Hudson became more and more polluted and electric refrigerators more affordable. The ice industry simply melted away.
The program begins at 2 p.m. and will be held in the Bronck Museum’s Dutch Barn. Light refreshments will be served.
Adult admission for this program is $8, GCHS members and children are $4. The Bronck Museum is located just off Route 9W, about 1.5 miles south of the intersection of Routes 9W, 385 and 81.
For information on upcoming special events at the Bronck Museum, including additional “Sundays Along the River” programs, please visit gchistory.org.