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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/690

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of the accessories to modern life, especially in large towns; and it is wholly to our credit that its free use has become a really noteworthy national trait.

New York has its ice-speculators and its Ice Exchange, and the Ice Exchange has its bulls and bears, who watch the thermometer and the weather as intently as their confrères in another market watch railroad-construction and the ticker. An ice-trade journal, published in Philadelphia, does valiant duty in endeavoring to establish the position of the ice-trade among the great industries of the world.

From twenty to twenty-five million tons of ice are annually harvested in the United States, and not far from fifty million dollars are invested in the business. It is probable that we use more ice annually in the city of New York alone than is consumed on the whole Continent of Europe. It is said that, if all the ice-houses on the Hudson River below Albany were placed side by side, the line would be not far from seven miles long! If we estimate the bulk of the entire amount of ice annually harvested in the vicinity of New York each year, we find that, if piled in a solid mass one hundred feet square, it would make a column soaring nearly three miles into the air. We have thus a veritable return of the Ice age—on quite a small scale, it is true, in comparison with that which Nature brought about by tilting up the strata and lowering the temperature of North America a few degrees; but then man always cuts a rather sorry figure when his "tinkerings" with the elements are brought into contrast with the results of Nature's wholesale and forceful work. A certain amount of ice is brought to New York from Maine each year, but the quantity is not large except after open winters, when the crop hereabout has been a poor one. Norwegian ice, with which England is largely supplied, has been at times brought here in small quantities, but under ordinary conditions it can not compete in the market with the domestic product.

Rockland, Highland, and Greenwood Lakes; Swartout Pond, near Rockland Lake; an artificial pond called Lake Meheagh, on Verplanck's Point; Tuckahoe Pond, on the Bronx River; Van Cortland Pond, in the new Van Cortland Park; Ice or Hinkley's Pond, on one of the small tributaries of the Croton River; and Lake Mahopac—all furnish varying amounts of ice for our market. But the Hudson River between Poughkeepsie and Albany forms the principal source of our supply. In the earlier days of ice-harvesting on a large scale upon the Hudson there was a good deal of quarreling among the representatives of the various companies as to their rights to particularly favorable ice fields, and lively skirmishes over evanescent and uncertain boundary lines took place between the employés of rival companies, with the natural sequelæ of broken heads and noses. But with legally acquired rights to the water-front on or near which the storage-houses are built, and the occupation year after year of particular tracts upon