You're officially a history geek when you see it everywhere you go and hidden in everything you do. Yes, even when skating.
Just before the holidays, my family and I were skating on Peaks Island's "Ice Pond." This photo, taken from the middle of the Ice Pond, shows how you can skate and see Hussey Sound on the horizon at the same time. At first glance, you might think it's called the Ice Pond for obvious reasons. It freezes in the winter and people skate on it, right? But, there's a hidden story here. The line of trees at right marks the location of a small, man-made dam. Generations ago, the dam was built to deepen the pond and to allow entrepreneurial islanders to harvest the ice. This was big business on Peaks Island.
Fifth Maine Regiment Museum shows (above), if islanders needed ice for their ice boxes (this is pre refrigerator days, remember), then they put ice cards in their window. The one at right is an example, again, from the Fifth Maine. The "Ice Pond" was just one of several ponds on the island where ice was harvested, and it wasn't just islanders who were customers. Schooners bellied up to wharves and the ice was loaded into the hold of the ship and packed in sawdust for long-distance shipping, most likely to the southern Atlantic states and the Caribbean.
That line of island business is long gone now. As we seek to reduce our carbon footprints, progress one of these days may mean ditching the refrigerator and going back to the ice boxes. I hope it means I won't have to hang up my skates.