His­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety demos 19th cen­tury ice har­vest­ing

Many PA Ger­mans had ice ponds and ice houses

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - FRONT PAGE - By Lisa Mitchell lmitchell@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @kutz­town­pa­triot and ham­bur­gitem on Twit­ter

Fam­i­lies and his­tory fans ven­tured out into the cold to ob­serve a pre­sen­ta­tion of 19th cen­tury Penn­syl­va­nia Ger­man ice har­vest­ing at the His­toric Dreibel­bis Farm in Virginville on Feb. 3.

The demon­stra­tion, hosted by the Dreibel­bis Farm His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, in­cluded cut­ting and har­vest­ing ice blocks from the farm’s ice pond, dur­ing which the small crowd gath­ered held their breath and gasped while the old ice har­vest­ing tools broke through the ice. When a chunk of cut ice was hauled to the sur­face, every­one cheered.

This was the So­ci­ety’s fifth Ice Har­vest Demon­stra­tion. Mark Dreibel­bis, so­ci­ety pres­i­dent, was the event host; Brian Dreibel­bis led the ice cut­ting at the ice pond; and Ned Dresher, so­ci­ety vice pres­i­dent, ex­plained the ice house at the old stone build­ing that re­mains stand­ing.

“This is an ed­u­ca­tional event, demon­strat­ing a key task of the win­ter-time 19th cen­tury farmer. It fits our pur­pose to cel­e­brate ed­u­ca­tional, his­tor­i­cal, and en­vi­ron­men­tal facets of the his­toric Dreibel­bis farm,” said Dresher. “Many Penn­syl­va­nia Ger­man farms had ice ponds and ice houses, but most have dis­ap­peared. Very few folks liv­ing to­day have per­sonal mem­o­ries of this ac­tiv­ity.”

Dresher said that the so­ci­ety hopes vis­i­tors ap­pre­ci­ate the hard­ships faced by Berks County farm­ers of the last two cen­turies.

“Get a chance to see and use a few of the tools nec­es­sary to har­vest ice, and take in the win­try beauty of the fields and lanes of the Dreibel­bis His­toric Farm,” said Dresher. “I par­tic­u­larly en­joy see­ing chil­dren saw­ing the ice and wrestling with the cut ice.”

The event, open to the pub­lic, in­cluded horse draw wagon rides to and from the Virginville Grange park­ing lot, na­ture trail, a camp­fire, hot choco­late and home­made chicken noo­dle soup kept warm in a pot over a camp­fire.

“Nearly ev­ery farm had pro­vi­sions for har­vest­ing ice for the pri­mary pur­pose of cool­ing milk from their dairy herds. It was hard work and of­ten peo­ple would come to­gether to work to get the har­vest in,” said Mark Dreibel­bis. “I hope at­ten­dees learned the his­tor­i­cal meth­ods and the im­por­tance of har­vest­ing ice. Per­haps also a bit of how hard peo­ple had to work for what to­day seems so sim­ple.”

His fa­vorite part of host­ing the event “is the gen­uine in­ter­est and cu­rios­ity that peo­ple have for the event and also the ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the farm and our mis­sion to pre­serve it.”

For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.Dreibel­b­is­farm.org or “His­toric Dreibel­bis Farm” on Face­book.

LISA MITCHELL - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Brian Dreibel­bis demon­strat­ing 19th cen­tury Penn­syl­va­nia Ger­man ice har­vest­ing at the His­toric Dreibel­bis Farm in Virginville on Feb. 3.

LISA MITCHELL - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Dreibel­bis Farm His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety Pres­i­dent Mark Dreibel­bis hold­ing a chunk of ice from the 19th cen­tury Penn­syl­va­nia Ger­man ice har­vest­ing demo he hosted at the His­toric Dreibel­bis Farm in Virginville on Feb. 3.

LISA MITCHELL - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Old-fash­ioned sled of­fered some 19th cen­tury fun at the Penn­syl­va­nia Ger­man ice har­vest­ing event at the His­toric Dreibel­bis Farm in Virginville on Feb. 3.

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