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Program to highlight ice harvesting industry that once took place on frozen Sandusky Bay

By Alyssa Wieber • Updated Jan 24, 2019 at 4:16 PM

HURON — The Maritime Museum of Sandusky won’t give the cold shoulder to Sandusky’s icy past.

Museum experts will discuss “Winters on Sandusky Bay: Leisure and Labor” at 6:30 p.m. today at the Huron Public Library. The speaker series will go back in history for a 45-minute discussion on the pre-refrigeration era of the Sandusky Bay.

Local ice companies and fishing companies would harvest ice from the lake to help preserve perishable items, said Wendy Bromfield, head of public services at the Huron Public Library.

Imagine Lake Erie 150 years ago with the shoreline covered in ice and snow. With horse-drawn plows to keep the ice clear of snow, men used grappling hooks to pull large ice blocks from the water. The ice blocks were taken across a channel to an ice house.

“Once Sandusky harvested the ice, they would insulate the ice houses with straw and hay to help the ice last all year,” Bromfield said.

Sandusky was also known for commercial fishing during the winter months. 

“Sandusky would transport fish around the region and country,” Bromfield said. “To help keep the fish fresh to transport, the fishing industry heavily relied on local ice harvesting.”

People also experienced great fun atop chilled waters, including ice skating and ice boat racing.

This speaker series was created to help residents understand the culture and economic value of Sandusky Bay.

“Individuals will have the chance to understand the city’s history,” Bromfield said. “Residents can realize the differences and similarities of people in the past.”

The Huron Public Library offers speaker series multiple times a month covering different topics such as art, culture, health, current events and science.

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