Programs At Hanford Mills Museum

Ice Harvest

Winter’s Coolest Tradition

Ice Harvest logo with a block of ice in tongsJoin us for a traditional ice harvest! As Hanford Mills Museum wraps up our 50th anniversary season in 2023, we’re continuing to go back to our roots and reflecting upon the historical traditions of the ice harvest.

What will the 2025 Ice Harvest look like?

Instead of setting a date months in advance, we are going to watch the ice and weather to schedule a day (or set of days) as we have a better idea of when ice harvesting will be possible. We will do our best to provide as much advance notice as ice conditions and weather forecasts allow.

Admission is by donation rather than our usual rates.

Ice Harvest scheduling and other information will be added here as we are able to confirm based on ice and weather conditions.

  • Scheduling and other information will be added here as we are able to confirm based on ice and weather conditions.
  • We will also post updates on Facebook and Instagram.


  • February 7: The mill pond continues to have about 3 inches of ice. Looking at the extended weather forecast, we expect that we might keep most of that ice but the temperatures will not be cold enough for more ice growth. Since 3 inches is only half of what we need to safely harvest, we are not expecting to be able to hold our Ice Harvest this year. If winter conditions should change by the end of February, we will revisit our plans.
  • February 5: The mill pond has 3 inches of ice on the pond. We will continue to keep an eye on the ice and the weather.
  • January 30: Staff measured the ice from the shore today. We still have between 2.5-3 inches of ice after the warm weather, and a layer of slush is covering the solid ice.
  • January 22: We have 5 inches of ice on the mill pond after the cold weather this weekend (still 1 inch short of our minimum needed to harvest). The rain and warmer weather later this week will shrink that amount, and we’ll continue to monitor the ice and the weather forecast. We are hoping for some colder weather after the thaw that might allow a February harvest.
  • January 17: The ice on the pond is approximately 3 inches thick.

In the days before mechanical refrigeration, ice harvesting was an essential wintertime activity. The ice harvested in the winter would be used to keep food and agricultural products cold in the warmer months. Just as farmers did a century ago, we’ll be monitoring ice and weather conditions to determine the best time for the best harvest.

Based on previous weather patterns, we anticipate the ice harvest will take place between mid-January and mid-February. Once we know the date, you’ll know! Check back here and on social media  often as we post the latest updates on ice conditions and our planned harvest activities.

Harvesting Ice

Hanford Mills Museum’s annual Ice Harvest celebrates the historic and community traditions of harvesting ice. Learn about the process, from measuring the ice to packing it in the ice house.

The Science of Ice and Ice Houses

Why was ice such an important crop before mechanical refrigeration? Ice is full of energy, waiting to be released. Learn more about the science of ice and how Hanford Mills keeps its ice crop cold through the summer.

Ice and a Changing Climate

In New York State, climate change impacts our winter temperatures, and those changes impact the environment, wildlife, and economies. We can see the impacts of these changes at our annual Ice Harvest.