The information below provides additional history about one of the sixteen points of interest along the tour.  Visit Essex, Massachusetts and enjoy our self-guided tour to learn more about each historic Essex location on the interpretive signs.

 

THE ESSEX BRANCH OF THE EASTERN RAILROAD
Ice Harvesting at the Drivers Union Ice Company on Chebacco Lake (circa 1900), Essex, Massachusetts

Photo: E. J. Story

ICE HARVESTING AT THE DRIVERS UNION ICE COMPANY

(circa 1900) Chebacco Lake

 

As ice blocks floated down the slip, a canal-like strip of water as workmen used long wooden poles with razor sharp steel hooks to grip the ice and move them along.  The ice was then lifted up to the tree house structure by chain hoist and slid off the chain onto wooden chutes to the various ice houses where they were stacked and stored.  An operator at the top of the chain hoist stopped and started the operation according to bell signals from the men inside.  Workers usually had only 6-7 weeks to fill all 9 houses with 10,000 tons of ice.  Read more >

< Click the photo for a larger view
Train Trestle Across the Marsh, Essex, Massachusetts
TRESTLE CONNECTING ESSEX TO SOUTH ESSEX

(circa 1912)

 

Remnants of the raised rail bed that once spanned the marsh is still visible today as you look southeast from the Essex Causeway.  The trestle carried passengers across town for nearly 40 years before Conomo Station on Southern Avenue closed in 1927. 

< Click the photo for a larger view
< Click the photo for a larger view
ESSEX DEPOT

(circa 1870)

 

Essex Depot was built when the Essex Branch of the Eastern Railroad was first constructed.  It was a turnaround for the line before the railroad was extended in 1887 to the newly constructed Conomo Station. The train carried passengers and timber for shipbuilding, as well as transporting ice harvested from Chebacco Lake to Hamilton where it connected to the main rail line to Boston.  

Essex Depot, Essex, Massachusetts
 
Train Snow Plow, Essex, Massachusetts
ICE HARVESTING AT THE DRIVERS UNION ICE COMPANY

continued

 

The opening of the branch line of the Eastern Railroad from East Hamilton to Essex in 1872 primarily served the ice industry at Chebacco Lake.  The track was built close to the shoreline as it passed by the lake.  The Drivers Union Ice Company (1877) and the Boston Ice Company (1905) were the main employers and for clammers, farmers and shipbuilders who's work slowed down in winter, the 50 cent an hour wage was good income.

 

Essex residents depended on Chebacco Lake ice delivered by an ice man.  The crystal clear Chebacco Ice was also shipped by railroad to Boston, Chelsea and other remote markets. This Boston & Maine Railroad snow plow kept the tracks clear to ensure timely delivery.

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Plan your trip to Essex, Massachusetts: www.VisitEssexMA.com

The Historic Essex Walking Tour is sponsored by the Historic Essex Walking Tour Committee, Essex Community Preservation Committee and Essex Merchants Group.

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