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Harvest of Diamonds: Maine Ice Cooled the World

pulling ice at Curran HomesteadIn the mid-19th century, Yankee entrepreneurs annually conducted large-scale commercial ice harvests on Maine waterways, creating an industry that greatly impacted our state's economy and affected lifestyles worldwide.

Bruce Bowden, Executive Director of The Curran Homestead Living History Farm and Museum in Orrington, will present a comprehensive lecture on Maine's ice industry at the Wilson Museum’s Hutchins Education Center, Wednesday, January 14, 2014 at 2 p.m. This talk will include the particulars and personages of Maine’s ice harvesting legacy which persists even today Attendees will hear vivid descriptions of how crystal-pure ice became Maine's second most valuable export before fading to obsolescence a century later, and see many of the actual tools used in the ice harvests of yesteryear -- century-old artifacts which are still used in living-history reenactments at sites throughout the state.

Bowden will conclude his presentation with a description of the ice harvesting process based on his first-hand experiences. This year the Seventh Annual Field's Pond Ice Harvest hosted by The Curran Homestead Living History Farm and Museum is scheduled for February 7th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


"Cocoa Ice" Cream

cranking ice creamDid you know that chocolate grows on trees and that Maine ice has been all over the world? Here’s a tasty way to learn about history! Come to the Hutchins Education Center at the Wilson Museum on Wednesday, January 21 at 2:30 p.m. and listen to the story of Cocoa Ice, a children’s book by Diana Karter Appelbaum which tells the story of two young girls: one in wintery Maine and one in steamy Santo Domingo. See historical artifacts, run a scientific experiment, and learn about the trade that brought cocoa and ice together. Finally, try your hand at bringing cocoa and ice together in the form of delicious ice cream. And, of course, sample the sweet results!

Though aimed at children ages 6-12, this program will appeal to anyone who likes to listen to a good story and eat ice cream! Please pre-register for this program by contacting 326-9247 or info@wilsonmuseum.org. For this special mid-winter event, the normal $3 per person material fee will be waived and all can participate free of charge.

Do you know a school or homeschool class that would like to have “Cocoa Ice” Cream visit their classroom? Save on the $3 per person fee and travel expenses by scheduling this educational program during the month of January for a flat fee of $25 per class.


Maine's Ice Industry: Windfalls and Pitfalls

CANCELLED due to weather.

Castine’s Wilson Museum will host its final January Ice Series presentation on Tuesday, January 27 at 2 p.m. in the Hutchins Education Center. Dr. Richard Judd will describe the origins of Maine's ice industry, its advantages and markets, and its incredible expansion in the middle decades of the nineteenth century. He will discuss ways in which this "windfall" industry illustrates the strengths and weaknesses in Maine's traditional resource-based economies. As a special treat, hand-cranked, homemade ice cream will follow the program.

Dr. Richard Judd is the Adelaide & Alan Bird Professor of History at the University of Maine in Orono. His primary field of interest is U.S. environmental history, particularly in New England. Professor Judd also edits the Maine Historical Society’s quarterly journal, Maine History, and contributes to their Maine History Online website.  


February Vacation Camp

This February, Tuesday through Friday during school break (Feb. 17-20), children are invited to join Wilson Museum staff in the Hutchins Education Center for a vacation camp of activities and games. The focus of the week will be on the Native American inhabitants of the Northeastern Territory. Each day will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. with campers providing their own bag lunches.

Every camp day will have a theme. On Tuesday, the first day of camp, the idea of culture will be explored and campers will begin to construct dioramas using materials from nature. Wednesday's theme will be healing and the spiritual world and will include carving an amulet and sampling herb teas. Thursday's theme will be stories, including those used to pass on history and explain the unknown. On Friday, camp will conclude with putting the finishing touches on the dioramas (which will be exhibited at the Witherle Memorial Library during the month of March) and with sampling a selection of crafts such as carving, weaving, and beading. While each camp day will include a variety of activities based on the theme of the day, games will be a part of every day. Games will highlight skills valued by native inhabitants including awareness, strength, recall based on memory or touch, reasoning, probability, and teamwork.

It is not necessary to attend every camp day, but preregistration is required. There is a $3 per person per day materials fee ($10 per person for the full camp). The camp is intended for children 7-12 years old. Families are encouraged to attend and younger children are welcome if accompanied by an adult. Register at 207-326-9247 or info@wilsonmuseum.org by February 10th.







Open: May 27 - September 30
Weekdays 10 am - 5 pm, Saturday & Sunday 2 - 5 pm
John Perkins House Bullet Demonstrations
July - August, Wednesday & Sunday, 2 - 5 pm
Group visits can be arranged by appointment.
(207) 326-9247   info@wilsonmuseum.org
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Admission is free, except for the John Perkins House,
where there are guided tours on the hour.
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A non-profit organization, tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) IRS Code
120 Perkins Street, PO Box 196, Castine Maine 04421
(207) 326-9247    info@wilsonmuseum.org