Weightman's story is one of astounding American ingenuity and steadfast ambition chronicling the founding and growth of the ice industry by Frederic Tudor of Boston in the early 1800's. Born to a well-to-do Boston family, his inheritance was lost by his father's poor investments in land and commodities. Determined to find a use for the fresh water ice that formed on ponds, lakes and rivers of the Northeast, he learned through trial and error the best techniques for harvesting, storing, shipping and selling ice. Initially scoffed at and ridiculed for his outrageous belief that anyone would find value in ice, let alone pay for it, Tudor stuck to his dreams and shipped ice to the West Indies and American southern states. Almost every early partner he worked with let him down by misappropriating his money or neglecting the task of selling the ice. Often finding himself bankrupt, several times he was thrown into debtors prison for outstanding unpaid debt. Somehow Tudor managed to borrow enough to stay in business.
Eventually, as his ideas caught on, ice became an ideal form of ballast for American shipping in the 1800's. He sent ships loaded with New England blocks of ice to major American ports such as Charleston, Key West, and New Orleans. Tudor even had the wild notion to send ice to London and to India. He faced competition from rivals but managed to amass a huge fortune from supplying comfort and convenience in the form of ice long before the days of refrigeration, air conditioning, or artificial ice manufacturing. Ice changed the face of American shipping of perishable goods such as fish, meat and dairy products and allowed the storage of the same goods in homes and businesses for longer periods of time.
This report prepared by David Fletcher