Minnesota’s ice age is over…for this year

At least the one at Richardson Nature Center in Bloomington.

That’s where I found volunteer Tim Graf a couple weeks ago.

For 14 years he’s been showing visitors how folks used to harvest ice from Minnesota lakes.

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My intention, obviously, was to make a nice little radio story out of my visit.

Our faux winter, the winter that never was, brought all the sawing and harvesting to a bit of a premature end.

Here’s Tim sawing through a harvested block.

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Richardson Nature Center’s Stacey Sigurdson and Tim admire an old fashioned ice box.

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Earlier this winter scores of school kids came through on field trips to witness a wintertime activity that has mostly disappeared.

Graf is the scion of an honest to goodness ice harvesting dynasty, now out of business.

He says his grandparents owned an ice harvesting company in Worthington. Grandfather and the crews, he says, would harvest tens of thousands of tons of ice from Lake Okabena during the cold months, store the blocks in a huge ice barn and sell the blocks to customers to help keep food cool.

And courtesy of our friends at the Minnesota Historical Society photo collection we have a 1910 image of an ice harvest on a pond in southern Minnesota.

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And in another MHS photo in the their collection from 1935 we have a man identified as Ole Gustafson delivering the cool stuff.

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