By the middle of the 19th century, the landscape around Frost Town had profoundly changed. The old-growth forests that first attracted settlers to Frost Town were dwindling due to unsustainable use. Settlers continued to harvest smaller timber for pulp wood and planted logging stands for future use, but by the late 1800s most of the sawmills had been abandoned.
An image of New York State sawmill operators working with an outdoor steam sawmill. Although the location and exact date of this image are unknown, this type of sawmill was likely used in and around Frost Town. Today, the CNC has a reconstructed sawmill in the western part of the property, dating to the 1920s, that looks very similar to the one pictured here. The CNC’s sawmill is operated by a gas-powered engine, but the technology is very similar to the steam-powered type. Image: Private Collection of A. Smith, Late 19th Century.
This photograph shows a massive circular saw at a working sawmill in Tupper Lake. This saw is similar to the one exhibited here, and similar versions may have been used at Frost Town. Loggers would use crosscut saws to fell trees and a combination of up-down and circular saws for the milling process. Image: New York State Archive, Early 20th Century.
Late 1800s – Sheep, Hops, and Potatoes
With timber resources gone, Frost Town turned to farming and shepherding. Like much of the surrounding area, the town became a center for sheep herding. Frost Town residents built fieldstone walls across the clear-cut forests to create pasture. Along with sheep, hops became an industrial staple for the region, with tall, wooden hop poles stretching across the landscape. Other Frost Town crops included potatoes, apples, and other garden vegetables.
This photograph shows a group of hop pickers surrounding a harvested pile of hops. While the image is from Bristol, residents of Frost Town also grew hops, alongside other crops in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Image: Bristol Hills Historical Society, Late 19th Century.
This photograph shows residents of Bristol Springs picking hops in the early 20th century. Bristol and South Bristol were famous for their hop farms until prohibition. Frost Town also saw some hops production as well. Notice the poles behind the group, made of saplings or small trees for the hop bines to grow. Notable last names of individuals here include Ben Porter, who is third from right. Image: Bristol Hills Historical Society, loaned by Carol Scott, Late 19th Century/Early 20th Century.
Taken at the turn of the century, this image shows a flock of sheep in the bare Bristol Hills. The location is unknown, but most likely around Bristol Center. Frost Town was also known for its sheep pasture at the turn of the 20th century. Image: New York State Archive, Late 19th/Early 20th Century.
This is an image of the area around the top of Honeoye Lake near Honeoye Creek. The scene here shows the area devoted to farmland with few trees in the landscape. Image: New York State Archive, 1924.
A news article from the July 12th, 1873 issue of the Naples Record describing H. Benjamin’s crops in the vicinity of Frost Town. The article lists, hops, grapes, potatoes, cabbage, and watermelon among other crops. Image: Fulton History Archive, 1873.
This photograph depicts what appears to be the Dyer-Hatch household posing for a family picture after berry picking. Image: Private Collection of C. Clarke, Early 20th Century.
Daily Life at Frost Town