John Demling of Naperville wanted to get outside with his sons Sunday before the weather turned brutally cold. Spending an afternoon watching ice being "harvested" seemed appropriate, he said.
"You can't ask for a more 'winter' kind of activity," he said with a laugh.
Demling was one of the visitors at Sunday's ice harvest demonstration at Kline Creek Farm, an outdoor living history museum in West Chicago. Kline Creek Farm gives visitors a chance to see what farm life was like in the late 19th century.
Using large, jagged saws, Kline Creek volunteers showed how farmers of the period would cut ice from frozen waterways into square blocks. The blocks were then pulled onto a wagon and taken to the farm's "ice house." Once hauled up to the ice house, the blocks were stacked and insulated in such a way that they stayed cold for months.
Sheila Markham of Elgin said she appreciated the historical side of the ice-harvesting demonstration.
"I guess I never thought about how people would get ice when they didn't have electrical refrigeration," she said. "It's obvious that they'd have to get it themselves, but it was fascinating to learn how they did it. And how they kept the ice cold for so long."
Some of those who attended Sunday's demonstration not only saw the ice-harvesting process happen but also took part.
Jennifer Maroney, 10, of Carol Stream, got a chance to cut some ice, moving the big saw up and down.
"It has really hard, harder than I thought," she said. "But I liked doing it."
Kline Creek Farm will host another ice-harvesting demonstration from 1 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30. For more information, go to dupageforest.com.