1845Ice packing began to replace salt packing for bringing fresh fish to market.Economy and Industry, Maritime & Fishing Industry

Ice supplemented then eventually replaced salt on many fishing vessels starting in the 1840s. Ice both preserved the bait and ensured that fresh fish could be brought to markets. Boats using salt for the first part of a trip then ice for fresh fish in the last part were called “shackers.” With the arrival of the Eastern Railroad in 1846, ice-packed fish landed at Gloucester could ship directly to Boston and other destinations within hours of landing, and thus avoid Boston’s high docking fees. Ice became widespread by the 1850s when the Georges Bank groundfish fleet sailed with an average of 6 tons per vessel per trip while halibuters fishing on the Grand Banks sailed with 16 tons per trip. The earliest sources for ice were Canadian imports until Nathaniel R. Webster began harvesting it from a brook he dammed in 1848 to create Webster’s Pond (now the site of the East Veterans Elementary School) and Frances W. Homans created the 32-acre Fernwood Lake in West Gloucester in 1876 for his own harvesting operation. Webster’s and Homans’ ice supply businesses merged in 1908 and by 1916, employed over 50 harvesters and a small fleet of trucks. The consolidated business is now called Cape Pond Ice.

“Timeship for Kids: Ice.” Cape Ann Museum, Winter 2009, https://www.capeannmuseum.org/media/education/ice-timeship.pdf.
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