Monhegan Museum of Art & History preserves and displays the art and history of Monhegan Island, ME. The exhibits are open to the public from June 24-September 30. Curators work year-round and are available for questions and research.
Before they began to cut, they would mark a line across longest stretch of the pond, from this line, they would run perpendicular lines creating 3 foot by 3 foot squares. The lines were carefully measured using a board for a straight edge, a carpenter’s square and a marking-off saw to create a checkerboard of squares across the ice.
Once lines were scribed, the grooves or perforations were made in the ice following the lines. In the early days, a hand ice plow or hand groover was used. In the later years, a machine groover was used. The groover did not cut through the ice, they did not want the ice to break at this point in the operation. If the ice broke, the workers and their equipment would be in danger of falling into the water. The groover scored the ice and created 26”x26” cakes. The groover machine was a circular saw blade on a sled powered by a water-cooled gas engine.
The cutting off saw was used to cut the rest of the way through the ice. Workers started at the area closest to the elevator shaft or ramp and worked away from that area, creating a canal to float ice cakes toward the ramp as they worked. In the early days and later when machines failed, a hand saw was used. The hand saw was like a tree saw but instead of a handle on each end there was only one handle. The worker pushed and pulled, cutting the ice. A machine cutting off saw that was attached to a sled for ease of movement also utilized a straight saw blade that mechanically moved back and forth. The cutting off saw sliced the ice into long strips one cake wide, called headers.