The Ice King

workers cut ice from pond

Above: Workers cut blocks of ice from Flax Pond in Lynn, MA. From the Noble Digital Heritage collection.

In 1806, the ingenious Frederick Tudor cut a boatload of ice from a pond beside his Saugus farmhouse and shipped it to Martinique. He had soon started a regular trade in ice from the ponds and lakes of New England to warm ports like New Orleans and Havana.

Tudor became known as Boston’s ‘Ice King,’ running a complex business. He had to create the market for ice exports, including educating customers in tropical climates how to store the ice in special boxes, ensure supply through unpredictable winter weather and beat out potential competitors in what soon became a lucrative industry.

Local ice dealers renamed ponds to make their ice more attractive –the source of the many Crystal and Silver lakes throughout New England.

There are more images of ice cutting operations throughout Massachusetts available from the North of Boston Digital Library Exchange. Check out their entire online exhibition on Winter.

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