The Extinct Profession of Ice Cutters

Written by Felipe Costa

ArqBahia team of authors.

A Brief History of the Profession

Did you know that the profession of “Ice Cutter” is a relic of the past? This activity was exclusive to countries where water froze naturally, a practice that disappeared over time.

Before the Age of the Refrigerator and Ice Machines

Before the invention of the refrigerator, i.e. the freezer, and ice-making machines, ice cutters played a crucial role in food preservation. The first steam engine for ice production was created by James Harrison in 1856, initially to meet the needs of a brewery.

Challenges of the Profession

In the United States, Canada, England and several European countries, brave ice cutters faced frozen lakes, where their task consisted of sawing large blocks of ice. They would then load these blocks onto sturdy carts to transport them to local villages. Despite the risks involved, this profession was remarkably profitable.

The Extinction of the Profession

With the advancement of technology and the emergence of modern refrigeration methods, the need for ice cutters has gradually decreased. The emergence of home refrigerators and industrial refrigeration systems has made the antiquated practice of cutting ice by hand obsolete.

In short, the profession of an ice cutter, once vital to food preservation, is now a distant memory. The evolution of technology has brought with it the natural decline of this unique occupation, but its legacy remains a fascinating window into the past, reminding us of the ingenuity and courage of the professionals who shaped the path to modern convenience.

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