The Frozen-water Trade

The Frozen-water Trade

A True Story

Book - 2003
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On February 13, 1806, the brig Favorite left Boston harbor bound for the Caribbean island of Martinique with a cargo that few imagined would survive the month-long voyage. Packed in hay in the hold were large chunks of ice cut from a frozen Massachusetts lake. This was the first venture of a young Boston entrepreneur, Frederic Tudor, who believed he could make a fortune selling ice to people in the tropics.

Ridiculed at the outset, Tudor endured years of hardship before he was to fulfill his dream. Over the years, he and his rivals extended the frozen-water trade to Havana, Charleston, New Orleans, London, and finally to Calcutta, where in 1833 more than one hundred tons of ice survived a four-month journey of 16,000 miles with two crossings of the equator. The Frozen-Water Trade is a fascinating account of the birth of an industry that ultimately revolutionized domestic life for millions of people.

Publisher: New York : Hyperion, [2003]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2003
ISBN: 9780786867400
Branch Call Number: 380.1427 W427F 2003
Characteristics: xv, 254 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 22 cm


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Mar 19, 2016

I was led to this book by Bill Bryson's "At Home", and requested it through the Mobius network. Talk about a fascinating piece of obscure history.

This book chronicles the life of Frederic Tudor and his development of the ice trade. Of course I knew that there used to be "Ice Men" who delivered the ice for storage in the Ice Box. Why did I not wonder where this ice came from? Because I'm intellectually shallow, it seems. Tudor was the Bostonian who developed ice commerce, from the New England states to Havana, India, the Indies...and the southern US. This history leads from the inception of his plan, to his struggles, successes and his departure from the industry.

What a fascinating tale. Ice harvesting and delivery prefaced the development of a taste for what we consider a necessity. This, of course, set the stage for the development of artificial refrigeration systems.


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