March 15, 2008
    Hopedale History
    No. 104
    Ice Cutting on Hopedale Pond

      Hopedale in March          The Stolen Bust         Milford Day in Florida  

      Judging by the responses I've had, many of you enjoyed Roy Rehbein's story of a nighttime dip in
    Hopedale Pond back in the 1940s. Here's another page of memories he sent a couple of weeks ago.
    Much of this covers the final years of Drapers......and more - Growing up in Hopedale.  

      Aerosmith fans might be interested in this site. Especially anyone who is also into Guitar Hero.
    Thanks to Dick Grady for the link.


     Years ago there were three icehouses on Hopedale Pond; one near the present location of Lake
    Street, another, near where the bathhouse now stands, operated by Henry Patrick who owned the
    grocery store in the center of town, and a third on the west side of the pond. That one was by far the
    largest, and it was still in use long after the others were gone. Gordon Hopper wrote about it in the
    article below. This is a shortened version. Click here for the complete article and links to more pictures.

                                               Ice Cutting on Hopedale Pond

                                                                            By Gordon E. Hopper

      There was a commercial interest once operating on the shore and on the surface of Hopedale Pond.
    An item in the Milford News for Sept. 14, 1890, stated that the Hopedale Ice Company was in the
    process of constructing three new icehouses. Each one was to be 120 feet long and 30 feet wide.

       Shortly after the construction of the buildings had been completed, the Grafton and Upton Railroad
    installed a track between their main line and the icehouses. Commencing then and continuing until
    sometime after 1920, railroad cars carried ice from these buildings to markets and customers in

      An example of the amount of ice harvested by this operation is that 12,000 tons of ice was recorded
    as having been cut and stored during the season of 1920.  

      There were several times during the years in which the Hopedale Ice Company cut ice on the pond
    when the structures caught on fire. They were always repaired or replaced and business continued
    until sometime in 1942.

      Once instance took place during 1904. In that year, plans were made to build a bathhouse. It was
    decided to take down the old icehouse and to use its lumber for the frame and sheathing of the new
    bathhouse. While the building was being dismantled it caught on fire. The fire spread to the woods and
    made its way to Darling Hill. (The ridge along the Hopedale-Mendon town line.) It consumed several
    hundred acres of woodland and burned for a week. The Grafton and Upton Railroad carried containers
    of water to the area, where it was used in combating the flames.  

      Russell Dennett of the Hopedale Coal and Ice Company can recall the times during the 1940s when
    he and other local high school students were employed to cut or store the cakes of ice after school
    hours and on Saturdays.

      Normally, the ice was cut by a man operating a gasoline powered machine which drove a large
    circular saw blade through and along the ice as he moved along the surface. Previous to the days of
    powered operations, it was necessary to scrape the snow away from the area to be cut. A special line
    marker tool was used to mark the ice where cuts were to be made. Using the marks made by this tool
    as a guide, a man would then cut through the ice using a handsaw.

      The pieces of ice would be pushed by men using special tools, along an open channel leading to the
    run where there was a conveyor on the outside of the building. The device would carry the ice up to
    where it would be pushed into a storage spot inside the icehouse.

       Without fail someone would slip and fall into the icy water. This meant a trip home, a change into dry
    clothing, return to the job, and then to absorb some kidding and ridicule from other workers.

      Before the end of the ice cutting operations on Hopedale Pond had arrived, the original three
    buildings had been changed to become a very large seven section single building.

      Cutting ice came to a conclusion during 1942. In December of 1944, the entire property was
    purchased by Thomas and Priscilla West. (He was the president of Draper Corporation.) The
    icehouses were removed and today a beautiful home stands on the site.

      It is interesting to note that between the time when cutting operations ceased and 1955, the
    Hopedale Coal and Ice Company manufactured 20 tons of ice each day at the Hope Street facility. This
    was done by machine and was in the form of 300 pound blocks. (If they produced 20 tons a day for
    every day in the year, it would still be less than the 12,000 tons mentioned above for 1920. However, by
    the 1940s, many people had refrigerators and demand for ice must have been falling.)

      The pump house associated with the icehouse was sold in 1948 and moved away. A team of large
    horses owned by William Taylor hauled the building to a new location behind the Durgin home at 120
    Dutcher Street in Hopedale.

      The small structure was named "The Little Red Schoolhouse" and was operated as a nursery school
    by Mrs. Ethel Durgin from 1948 until 1959. A bell once used on a very old American LaFrance Hopedale
    Fire Department ladder truck reposes today on one end of this very substantial building.

      Even if the old pump house from the Hopedale Ice Company's operation is gone and the Little Red
    Schoolhouse may also be gone, something still remains. The building continues to exist, now serving
    as a workshop for its owner, Hopedale's Fire Chief, Herbert S. Durgin.. Milford Daily News, January
    27, 1975.                                               

    Recent deaths:   

    Helen L. Brown, 83, February 23, 2008, HHS 1942.

    Anita (Buroni) Volpe, 78, February 25, 2008, HHS 1947.

    Dr. Henry N. Iacovelli, 93, March 6, 2008.

    Andrew Nealley, 84, March 7, 2009, Springfield, Missouri.

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