The ice harvest will be held February 11th beginning at 11 am and goes until the ice house is full.
The Millers Mills Grange Annual Ice Harvest is set for Sunday, February 11, 2018. The event allows visitors an opportunity to step back in time and experience a task that their ancestors once did. It also serves as a major fund raiser for the Grange. Unfortunately the lack or poor condition of the ice has caused the harvest to be canceled several times in the past few years. The erratic weather over the past few weeks presented some concern. However, the long range outlook for colder weather is encouraging and the Millers Mills Community is ready.
The use of old hand tools to saw, separate, and load the ice blocks onto horse-drawn sleighs maintains the authenticity of a 19th century ice harvest. The only exception is the antique, gas-powered machine used to score the ice the day before. This insures that the blocks are relatively uniform in size and easier to cut and handle. The harvest begins at 11 AM and continues until the ice house is full in mid afternoon. Visitors are encouraged to participate in cutting the ice, but a minimum ice depth of 8 inches is necessary for safety.
Ice harvesting has occurred in Millers Mills since its founding by Andrew Miller over two centuries ago. Then ice was needed to preserve food and to cool farmers’ milk. After electricity arrived in 1941, the community church, and later the Grange, continued harvesting ice to make ice cream for summer socials. Today the Millers Mills Ice Harvest has become a nationally known community effort to preserve and share a small facet of rural American heritage.
Members of the Eastern Regional Draft Horse Association and their teams of draft horses haul the ice from the Millers Mills pond to the ice house a short distance away. Packed in sawdust and snow, the ice blocks last well into the following summer. The empty sleighs provide rides back to the pond.
Visitors can warm up with homemade soup, hot dogs, donuts and hot chocolate at the Grange Hall. A historical exhibit will also be on display. Commemorative sweatshirts be available for purchase and a fifity-fifty raffle held.
Millers Mills is in the town of Columbia in extreme southern Herkimer County. The Grange is located at 107 Finger Ave. Watch for signs to Millers Mills Rd off Route 51 or Jones Road off Jordanville Road. Parking is available on either road. Dress warmly and bring your camera.
Anyone planning to attend can check the status of the ice and the event by visiting the Millers Mills Grange website, www.millersmillsny.com or calling 315-822-6860 or 315-822-3003 for more information.