A Warm Day In September Presaged the Birth of the Ice King

September 4, 1783

Frederic Tudor, a businessman who became known as the “Ice King” for creatively transporting ice to various regions of the globe from his native New England, was born in Boston. Long before the advent of electric refrigerators, Tudor came up with the idea of harvesting block ice from frozen freshwater lakes and ponds in Massachusetts during the winter and shipping the ice to such faraway locales as Europe, the Caribbean, and India.

Ice Harvesting on Spy Pond 1854, Arlington, MA.

Tudor’s first ship to deliver ice left Boston in February 1806 for a trip of 1,500 miles (2,414 kilometers) to Martinique. Unfortunately, a lot of the ice melted en route to its tropical destination. Tudor, however, did not waver in his belief that there was indeed a market for the cold stuff. With each additional trip, he focused on further improving storage and insulation methods for ice transported aboard his ships.

Tudor, who died in 1864 at the age of 80, ultimately did much to not only popularize the use of ice as a commodity worldwide but also demonstrate the greater-than-before potential of maritime transportation when it came to freight shipments.

For more information on Frederic Tudor and his pioneering shipments of ice, please check out the 17 August 2018 Boston Globe article “‘Ice King’ Frederic Tudor was one cool character” at https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2018/08/17/ice-king-frederic-tudor-was-one-cool-character/kIVcwIQQP2IFOfykqpFx1O/story.html.

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