I spent today engaged in one of my favorite pastimes: historical sleuthing. I was hunting for evidence of long-forgotten ice harvesting ponds. This abbreviated post is really an addendum to yesterday’s installment.
First, I headed to Wellington’s Greenwood Cemetery to seek evidence of the Horr farm ice pond. What I found was a long ditch running between the neighborhood on Monstrose Way and the modern northern boundary of the cemetery.
The ditch terminates in a large depression at the north-east corner of the cemetery. I don’t know if this is a naturally occurring geological feature, or the remains of the 1 1/2 acre ice pond that Charles Horr constructed on his farm in 1880. The pond was five feet deep, and this change in elevation does not appear to be much deeper than that.
Next, I headed down West Herrick Avenue, to the section of town that the 1896 map shows with an ice house and large pond. I have been working under the assumption that the northernmost pond on the map was the one referred to as Westlake Pond or Park. Author Robert Walden noted, “It was named and the grounds about it developed largely through the vision and untiring efforts of Mayor Charles Gott while he was chairman of the Board of Public Affairs” (Robert Walden Notebook, #A63). That piece of land is now occupied by the Village of Wellington Department of Public Works. What appears from the street to be a small grassy hill is, in fact, a circular berm that runs around the perimeter of the DPW buildings and vehicle parking lot. This was the edge of the nineteenth-century pond. It was difficult to photograph the berm clearly since it is so large, but here is one side view.
Readers of yesterday’s post will recall that an ice house stood north of the pond, fronting what is now West Herrick Avenue; Walden claimed that the storage facility served Horr, Warner & Co., then later was run by a man named Lewis Dibble. The photograph below shows that same plot of land today, a plain strip of mowed grass with a flagpole and welcome sign for the village.
I searched to see if I could locate any additional images pertaining to ice harvesting, and found the historic photograph at the top of this post. It was named, “Wellington Ice Storage Barn around 1906,” but had no location recorded, so I was not certain it had any connection to the places I have been writing about. However, a note was attached identifying the people in the image: Mr. Burlingame, Mr. Doan, Lewis Dibble and young Gertrude Dibble. Since Lewis Dibble ran the ice house just north of Westlake, it seems likely that this image depicts the very building that once stood on now-empty land in front of the DPW.
I don’t mind telling you, dear reader, that I was pretty pleased with myself by the end of my adventures. Then later today I spoke with my father-in-law, who grew up not far from here and is very interested in local history himself. Oh yes, he knew about Westlake and the ice ponds; and yes, those were the correct locations. Thus was I reminded of an important fact that any historical sleuth needs to keep always in mind: just because I don’t know something, that doesn’t mean it isn’t known.