A Dozen Amishmen Collect Ice From A Frozen Pond (14 Photos)

These near-perfect photos by David Marvitz almost look like something staged or taken from a film. Actually, the scenes remind me of some of Bill Coleman’s masterpiece photos taken in the Big Valley of central PA, which have a similar quality. But these are real Amish at work – cutting and collecting ice in the Hazleton, Iowa community.

The ice will be used for cooling in the iceboxes and ice houses of this plain group (a common means of refrigeration in the more traditional Amish circles).

We actually saw a previous post on this same process, in this same community, in 2018. David was also responsible for those photos, which were featured in a local news article. He explained at the time that he has a close relationship with the local Amish community, and that they invited him to take the photographs. Here’s a photo, which appears to be from the same vantage point, from 2018:

I think he has really outdone himself with these shots however.

This latest batch of photos were taken back on February 4th. David writes:

Monday night I got a call from a friend of mine in Washington State and she told me they were cutting ice on another pond in Hazleton, Iowa. So I left Waterloo at 7:00 AM to be there when they started. It was hard to photograph because it was so foggy heavy and had a fog mist like fine snow that was making it hard to focus but I got it to work. I’m setting in my car on the road and the pond is almost a block away. This same pond I photograph in 2018 and it was 22 below that day. Today it was 22 above while I was getting these images. With a dozen men working at it they filled 3 wagons (2 layers) full in a ½ hour.

One thing you don’t see too well in this latest group of photos are the tools the men are using. Here are a couple of the 2018 shots showing those. First, tongs:

Homemade ice cutter.

You can read more about the process at that post. We’ve also got posts on Amish ice harvests in other states, including Ohio, New York, and Wisconsin.

And while we’re at it, let’s have a look at an ice house. Here are a couple of images of one from a previous post via Tom in NY:

Amish Ice House

Here you see the ice blocks stacked up inside, set to provide refrigeration for months to come. That’s yogurt inside, and a pack of hot dogs:

Amish Ice

And another view from this month’s harvest:

See the rest of the photos (14 total) and full-size versions at David Marvitz’s post. Hat tip to Linda.

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    7 Comments

    1. Thanks

      Thanks for these amazing photos! There is nothing like that Down Under and I appreciate this so much.
      Stay safe
      Blessings
      Maxine

      1. Amishmen collecting ice

        Thank you for amazing photos. Never seen anything like this nor the way a ice box is used. Brave people to be out in such freezing weather. Was interesting to see Amish men in winter attire wearing a knitted beanie instead of their hats.

        1. I really enjoyed these too. Even though this does look quite chilly, I noticed the comment from the photographer who says that this was in 22 F temps – while on the previous occasion it was 22 below. Yeeowch.

    2. Sunflower

      Ice Storage

      Thanks for these pictures. Nice to see the winter side of farming. I’m curious about how the ice shed is built. I remember seeing very old family photos (taken in New England) of ice stacked in the barn completely covered over with hay and canvas . Some how it lasted into the summer months. My father and his siblings used to sneak in to chip a way at it as a snack and to cool down. Uncovering it was dangerous to your bottom if you got caught! If anyone knows how and what what materials are used I’d love to know. How long does it last inside this type of shelter? Thank you!

      1. The ice house in the photo has foam for insulation. Tom, who took the photos says that in some other places they pack the ice in saw dust and store it in the corner of the barn. I believe the setup in the photos will keep ice well into summer as well. Tom actually did a post as well on this on his own blog where he goes into greater depth: http://backroadstraveller.blogspot.com/2014/01/amish-icehouse.html

    3. C.J.

      Ice Cutters

      Very interesting to see how they do this and why it is a tradition.
      What HARD, COLD work! Glad I don’t have that job. lol
      I have a friend up in N. Maine who does photography…and I have seen many of her pictures of her friends cutting Ice up in an Amish community in Maine. Also plowing snow, pumping water for their animals, and such.
      If you are interested, check out Earlene’s pictures at: Earlene Dyer Lawrence.
      She posts lots of wildlife, scenic, and Amish pictures. She is A true delight to follow! She also, recently, has published a book of photos.
      Thanks Erik, for your column. I Truly enoy it!

    4. Absolutely C.J. I think I’d enjoy this work as I’m much more a cold weather person than hot. Have to keep in mind safety on this type of job though; some years back an Amish teen drowned while cutting ice. Thanks for sharing the photos and for reading the site, glad to have you around:)