By Sue Moore
It might be hard to imagine that ice harvesting on Sunset Lake in the early 1900s would bring a Travel Channel film crew and producer to Vicksburg for a story, but that is exactly what happened the first weekend in March, 2013.
The Travel Channel’s researchers did a Google search on the topic and up popped Ron Smith’s lecture program on the ice harvest near his home on Sunset Lake, a presentation he did three years ago for the Historical Society.
The five minute segment appeared on the Travel Channel in October and the Historical Society has been given a DVD of the show, although those who were alerted to the date it was aired, have recorded it for posterity, Smith included.
The researchers liked the idea that the Historical Society had a display of the old saws and other equipment in its collection in a renovated box car. They also wanted to focus on how the Swift Meat Packing company used ice to keep meat cool from the stockyards of Chicago to the East Coast where the population was hungry for fresh cut meat that hadn’t spoiled on its trip to the store.
A cameraman, soundman, assistant producer and producer arrived in Vicksburg early on Saturday morning, March 2, after a day of filming at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids. They spent hours shooting the streets, houses, the lake and ponds around town before arriving at the Depot Museum to film Ron Smith.
He was interviewed about the methods used in the ice harvest and also about the history of the ice harvest.
Late in the afternoon, the film crew went into the box car to view the implements that had first attracted the producers to the story. They even used some of them to cut a hole in the ice out in front of Smith’s home which served as the original ice house collection point for the local sale of ice and storage facility.
After a day of hard work and a lunch at the Hide-Away, Lupe and Ron Smith hosted the four crew members at dinner where they shared lots of stories about the village of Vicksburg and their hard work. The crew left immediately afterwards for Grand Haven and then on to Mackinac Island for stories centered on museums there.