In the years before the invention of refrigeration, ice was needed to cool and preserve food.Local merchants and farmers usually had their own small ice ponds and ice houses to accommodate their needs.
Most farmers maintained their own ice ponds and ice storage houses.
During the non-growing months of winter, farmers were less busy, and farm workers and horses were usually idle, providing the labor needed to harvest ice.
It was not unusual for the dairy house and ice house to occupy different rooms in the same building for convenience.
If a natural pond was not available, a pond would be created to catch rain water or stream water.
The pond across from the present Patterson Town Hall was regularly harvested for ice, as were most local ponds.
Large quantities of ice was also needed by Patterson's distant neighbor to the south, New York City.The City looked north for sources of ice, and the clean waters of upstate New York provided the ice.Some of New York City's ice was harvested from the Hudson River.Locally, many of the larger ponds and lakes also had ice harvesting operations that supplied New York City.The same Harlem Railroad that provided the dairy farms with quick access to New York City's markets also provided quick access to the City for the ice operations.Patterson's dairy farms needed ice to preserve the milk before it could be taken to market.