Ice Harvesting on Sodus Bay

1835 – 1939

In past winters, Sodus Bay would freeze to a depth of 10 – 14 inches. From 1835 to electrification about 1939, two icehouses on the bay supplied homes and businesses with ice. A home required about 300 cakes of ice to cool the icebox all summer. A horse dragged an Ice Plow across the ice to scribe checkerboard cuts. Large floats were sawn and then cut into cakes that could be stored with straw and sawdust between them as late as October in the icehouses.

Information courtesy of the Sodus Bay Historical Society

Ice harvesting was big  business in Sodus Point, especially in the early 1900s.

The ice harvesting on Sodus Bay was expanded and distributed to  other areas outside Wayne County via railroad. During its short but labor  intensive season, upwards of 100 men were employed in the ice harvesting  business. In the 1908 issue of Refrigerating World, volume 35, page 52 it is  reported:

“Ice cutting on Sodus Bay is now under  way. The ice is 10 inches thick and of excellent quality. Warren H. Field and Charles DeVille have a contract to furnish 300  carloads of ice to the Northern Central Railroad  Company, which will be distributed among their ice houses  at Elmira, Williamsport, Sunbury and Baltimore.”



Photo of Charles Deville. Charles Deville came to Sodus Point from Quebec Canada, and he built the ship building business, that was located where the Bait and tackle was, recently owned by Chase family, next to the ball field. Charles Point is said to be named after him. Photo and information  courtesy of William Bullard.


ice house















This is the only remaining ice house structure on Sodus Bay which is located on Charles Point. Now days it is used as a community center.


For additional photos and information about ice harvesting, please click on this link:


On at least one occasion, ice harvesting turned into bird rescue as reported in the 1913 American Ornithologist Union, volume 30, page 579

“Feeding Wild Ducks on Sodus Bay, N. Y.— Sodus Bay, one of the largest bays on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, was the scene of an interesting experiment in the feeding of wild ducks during the months of February and March, 1913. The bay, which is a large irregularly shaped body of water, containing several islands, is frequented in the spring and fall by large numbers of ducks. The winter was unusually mild up to the  first of February, and many ducks remained on an area of the bay which was open, and where they apparently found plenty of food. About February 1 the weather turned  suddenly cold, with heavy snow storms and high winds. This caused the bay to freeze entirely over, preventing the ducks from reaching there feeding grounds. On February 4 the weather was very stormy, and several thousand ducks were noted in places still remaining open. On February 5 Mr. Claude T. DeVille, the state game protector at Sodus Point, noted that the ducks were flying to places kept open by men harvesting ice. The ducks were very fearless and were apparently suffering from lack of food. On the succeeding day, February 6, he obtained a quantity of wheat, and tried feeding  the ducks. The grain was readily eaten and he immediately wrote the New York State Conservation Commission, notifying them of the presence of the ducks and  the necessity of relief measures. The Commission promptly responded, and on February 10, Mr. DeVille received word to purchase grain and feed the ducks. He first tried feeding by throwing the grain in the water, but the ducks were so weak that they apparently had difficulty in reaching bottom in sixteen feet of water. This fact alone shows the extremes to which the ducks were reduced, as they were mainly Bluebills, Redheads and Canvasbacks, all of which feed at considerable depths. He then tried placing the grain on the ice on a place scraped clear of snow near the edge of the open water. This proved successful, as the ducks immediately came out on the ice, feeding like barnyard fowls. At one place near where men employed by the Northern Central Railway Co. were harvesting ice, there were often six or seven hundred ducks feeding at one time. The ducks were fed in this manner at all the places which remained open, which varied from three or four to six or eight. They were fed at least once and often twice each day, and during the period from February 10 to March 10, when the feeding was discontinued, thirty-eight bushels of wheat were fed. The ducks soon learned to look for the grain and upon seeing Mr. DeVille starting out on the ice, would fly to where the grain was placed. At one time all the holes had frozen over, and the grain was placed on the bare ice, the ducks coming in from the lake and lighting on the ice to feed. This was at a distance of about a quarter of a mile from the open water in the lake. On February 21 being temporarily out of wheat, cracked corn was tried, but the ducks apparently did not relish it, and did not clean it up, as they did the wheat. During a period from February 12 to 16, Mr. DeVille estimated the number of ducks was at least ten thousand. They gradually scattered with the coming of milder weather, but there were several thousand still present on March 18.

Great credit must be given to both Mr. DeVille, who is a game protector of a type we need more of,  and the New York State Conservation Commission, for their prompt action in this matter, for there is no doubt that if they had not acted in time, thousands of ducks would have died of starvation.— H. E. Gordon, Rochester, N. Y. “

Austin Steward

(1793 – 1860)

” I was born in Prince William County, Virginia. At seven years of age, I found
myself a slave on the plantation of Capt. William Helm. Our family consisted of
my father and mother – whose names were Robert and Susan Steward – a sister,
Mary, and myself. As was the usual custom, we lived in a small cabin, built of
rough boards, with a floor of earth, and small openings in the sides of the  cabin were substituted for windows.”


Thus began the story of Austin Steward in his book entitled “Twenty-Two Years A Slave, and Forty Years a Freeman”. In chapters 4 – 6, this books tells the story of Austin, as a teenager, moving with a group of slaves from their plantation in Virginia  to Sodus Bay just before the War  of 1812. Later they would move again to Bath, New York.


To read of their adventures on Sodus Bay, please click on this link:


Shipwrecks Off Sodus Point

Sodus Point is  known for three shipwrecks near its harbor:

  • 1850s Canadian schooner Orcadian in Lake Ontario at Sodus Point, NY
  • Canadian-built schooner Etta Belle, near Sodus Point, NY (video right)
  • 1853 three-masted Canadian schooner Queen of the Lakes, near Sodus Point (bottom video)

Shipwreck Explorers Discover 1850’s Canadian Schooner in Lake Ontario 

In 2006, the wreck of the mid 1800s Canadian schooner, Orcadian was discovered in deep water approximately 8 – 10 miles off of Sodus Point. Shipwreck enthusiasts Jim Kennard, Dan Scoville, and Chip Stevens located the old schooner utilizing sophisticated side scanning sonar equipment. The Orcadian was carrying a cargo of 8200 bushel of wheat destined for Oswego. In the very early morning hours of May 8, 1858, the Canadian schooner Orcadian travelling east to Oswego, New York collided with the schooner Lucy J. Latham that was headed in the opposite direction for the Welland Canal. The Orcadian took on a great amount of water from the large gap in the side of her hull created by the collision and began to sink immediately.  Latham was damaged in the collision but did not sink.

Captain James Corrigal, his wife, their two children and the crew of the Orcadian took to their yawl boat and were taken safely aboard the Latham, which then put about and returned to Oswego.

For more information and photos of this wreck, click the link below:


Discovery of a Pre-Civil War Era Schooner in Lake Ontario

Sodus Point, New York – The 152-year-old Canadian built schooner, Etta Belle, has been discovered in deep water off the southern shore of Lake Ontario near Sodus Point, New York. Shipwreck enthusiasts, Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville, located the schooner utilizing side scan sonar equipment.

The oak-hulled schooner, Etta Belle, foundered suddenly during calm weather in the early evening of September 3, 1873. The ship was on route from Little Sodus to Toronto, Canada, and was loaded with a full cargo of coal. The crew took to a small yawl and rowed over 8 miles to shore. For additional information and phtos of the Etta Belle shipwreck, please click on the following link:

Discovery of  1853 Three Masted Canadian Schooner in Lake Ontario

Queen of the Lakes has been used as the name of three vessels that sailed on the Great Lakes, but none was the longest on the lakes at the time. The first was a three-masted Canadian schooner built in 1853 as the Robert Taylor, measuring 133 feet. It was renamed Queen of the Lakes sometime before 1864.[3] She sank nine miles off Sodus Point, New York on November 28, 1906 while en route to Kingston, Ontario with a 480-ton shipment of coal . She sprang a leak in heavy seas while enroute to Kingston and the bilge pumps could not expel the water fast enough and the boat sank, . She rolled over and foundered after her crew launched the yawl. They made it to shore. She sank in 400′ of water and you can see in the video below, her three masts are still standing.





Steamship Era

Excursion Steamship Arundell

The steamship era was an exciting time as the lake steamers came into Sodus Point with coal for Canada and other lake ports.

There were passenger services on the bay with docks at Charles Point, Lake Bluff, Bonnie Castle Resort and all of the islands. In Sodus Point, the steamers had their docks located on the south side of Sand Point and were scheduled to meet all the trains and trolleys.

The Village’s name was changed to Sodus Point and it became a government Port of Entry.

For more information and a mural of this era

please click:

James Fenimore Cooper

James Fenimore Cooper (1789 – 1851) was the most celebrated American author of the first half of the 19th century. As a midshipman, he was stationed in Oswego and is said to have visited Sodus Bay and grew to love the rustic beauty of the Bay. Later in life, it is reported that he returned to the area and in a rustic cabin in Charles Point, he wrote part of his acclaimed Leatherstocking Tales (published 1823 – 1841).



For more information, please click the following link:


Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum

Sodus Bay Light was built in 1825


On May 26, 1824, Congress approved a lighthouse located on Sodus Bay in Sodus Point, NY. Building costs were estimated to be $4500.00 and the government allotted that amount for the building of the lighthouse.

A publicly approved parcel of land was purchased from William Wickham for $68.75 and that is where the original Sodus Bay Light was built in 1825. It was of conical construction and was equipped with all of the necessities that a lighthouse of that time frame would need.

In 1868 an inspection of the lighthouse showed many infirmities and other problems like leaky roofing and poor walls. This spelled the end of the original Sodus Bay Lighthouse.

Congress again appropriated money to build a lighthouse at Sodus Bay, this time to the tune of $14,000. The lighthouse is of the square-integral type made of limestone mined at the Kingston quarries. It is equipped with a fourth order Fresnel lens. After the new tower was completed on June 30, 1871, the old tower from 1825 was demolished.

The stone from it was used to build a jetty to protect the shoreline in front of the new lighthouse. The new lighthouse was very similar to the lighthouse at Stony Point, also on the Great Lakes.

The lighthouse was discontinued and the lens was removed in 1901.


In 1977 the lighthouse was listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. In 1984 the lighthouse was given to the Town of Sodus and during the next year the bank in front of the lighthouse was rebuilt to retard erosion of the land around the lighthouse.

In 1988 the Fresnel lens was returned to the tower. Today the  lighthouse serves as a Maritime Museum run and maintained by the Sodus Bay Historical Society. The Lighthouse is located at 7606 North Ontario Street in Sodus Point.

For additional information, please click the link below:

Railroad Coal Trestle

In 1884 the Northern Central Railroad bought the Sodus Point and Southern Railroad, creating a land-water shipping route from Pennsylvania to Canada.

In 1886 a coal trestle, at the west end of the bay, was erected and a commercial coal shipping business started which served all ports on Lake Ontario.

In 1927 the trestle was greatly expanded in size so that increased tonnage of coal could be loaded.

In 1971, the trestle was being dismantled when it accidentally caught fire and was destroyed.

The coal trestle was located on Route 14 as you go north out of Sodus Point, just north of where Sodus Marina is today. The only thing that remains of the trestle, is a concrete abuttment.


For more information, please click this link:

Underground Railroad in Sodus Point




Sodus Point and the surrounding area were active in the Underground Railroad. From stories passed down, several safe houses were used to harbor “Freedom Seekers” included what is now Maxwell Creek B & B, Silver Waters B & B, the old Cohn Farm and the old Sodus Fruit Farm. Sodus Point ran a Schooner out of the old Ore Dock that would pick up the slaves on its way to Canada.
Here is that story as told by George Arney and Elsie Parsons (the Grandchildren of the Captain of the Schooner)  in November 2010:

Captain George Garlock  ( 1829 – 1906 )  ran a freight schooner  (sail only ) out of Sodus Point, NY named “Free Trader” in the mid-1800’s. It was a two masted, one deck, 46 ton, squared sterned, carved head schooner with a crew of 4. He would take a load of lumber or ore out of the ore dock in Sodus Point to go across to Canada.  The schooner would leave anytime day or night depending on the weather.  He would be going on Lake Ontario west and then north toward Canada to Brighton, Ontario (a small town pretty much straight across the lake from Rochester).  If he saw a small rowboat off shore with people on it, he would stop and pick them up.

These fugitive slaves would come from the Cohn Farm (formerly the Horn Farm) and Old Sodus Fruit Farm ( Old Swales Farm ) and gather at a bluff overlooking Lake Ontario now known as “Freedom Hill”, then called “Nigger Hill”.  If daytime they would see the schooner coming and at night time they used a beacon to get its attention.  They would then go out in a small boat.   These African-American people would then be “stowed away” on board until reaching Canada.  Captain Garlock would then return with a load of grain to one of the local gristmills, or whatever he was bringing back from Canada.

This information above is accurate to the best of my knowledge.

Block and Tackle 667x500

This is the block and tackle used on the riggings of the Free Trader. They were donated to the Lighthouse by Elsie Parson who is the grand daughter of Captain Garlock. They are currently on display at the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum and are believed to be the only artifacts of the Free Trader left in existence.

Austin Steward was a former slave who spent a year in Sodus Point (you can read his story on this website). He would go on to become a well known abolitionist and author. He said this about the Underground Railroad: “Is not the necessity of an “under ground railroad,” a disgrace to the laws of any country? Certainly it is; yet I thank God, that it does afford a means of escape to many, and I pray that the blessings of Heaven may ever rest upon those who willingly superintend its interests.”

For more information about the Underground Railroad in our country

Click on this link:




How do we know so much about the specifications of the Free Trader and what cargo it carried?


There is a rather amazing story that answers this question. In the 1850s, working  Schooners had to fill out quite a bit of paperwork. For local schooners, this paperwork was stored in a building at the Port of Rochester, NY. This paperwork laid there for decades gathering dust when it was decided to throw old records out. It just so happens that a friend of the grandchildren’s family was there when the records were being tossed out and looked through the records. This person found the Enrollment , Manifests and Entry of Merchandise records for Free Trader and gave them to the family which subsequently kept them for future generations.


The Free Trader Enrollment record is like a car registration for a schooner. It specifies builder specifications for the schooner, owner’s name, where it was built, etc.

To see the 1854 Free Trader Enrollment record click here:



When schooners transported cargo between Canada and the U.S. ports, they needed to fill out a Entry of Merchandise form which showed the cargo, the departure and entry ports and identified the Captain and vessel.

To see the Free Trader Entry of Merchandise dated Sept. 13, 1856 click here:


There is much  more to the story of the Underground Railroad in Sodus Point. For the rest of the story, please click the link:


Captain George Garlock’s Obituary


The Record – August 31, 1906




Captain George Garlock Of Sodus Point Died Suddenly.


The sudden death of Captain George O. Garlock occurred Monday evening at his residence at Sodus Point. Death resulted from an at­tack of heart disease, to which Mr. Garlock was subject. He spent the day at his store on Sand Point, and returned to his home about 5:30 p.m. After he had been home about an hour he complained of feeling ill. In twenty minutes be was dead. Coroner K S. Carr was summoned.


Captain George Garlock was born in Dutchess County, Pa., and was 76 years of age in May. His father was a soldier in the war of 1812, and lived, as his son did after him, in Sodus Point. Captain Garlock was a sailor, and made his living on the lakes for many years. He was twice married, his first wife being Miss Elizabeth Coon of Sodus Point,and his second Miss Adeline Nurden of Canada. Ten children besides the widow survive. They are Georgetta and Jennie Garlock and Mrs. John Bayless of Sodus Point, Mrs. Emma Cortright of Michigan, Mrs. Charles Collar of Sodus, Mrs. Elsie Gaskin and Mrs. Thomas Kelly of Weedsport, William Garlock of Pennsylvania, George of Oswego and Jacob of Sodus Point.


The funeral services will be held this afternoon at 2 o’clock, Rev. Miles of Wolcott officiating. Internment will be made at Bushnell’s cemetery.





Battle of Sodus Point Mural

The Battle of Troupesville, now called the Battle of Sodus Point, occurred on the crest of a hill (now the intersection of John and Bay Streets) on the evening of June 19th,1813 during the War of 1812.

A group of approximately 50 patriots (a combination of poorly trained militia and local volunteers with no military training) fired into the lines of advancing British marines as they ascended the hill from the western shoreline.

Although greatly outnumbered and fighting some of the best trained and battle hardened soldiers in the world, these brave Americans had the courage of their convictions to defend our village from the British incursion.

Unaware of either’s fighting strength and numbers, both British and American forces retreated; Britons to their ships and Americans to the heavy underbrush.

The next day after a barrage from the cannons on their ships, the enemy landed once more. The British marines seized some stores in the warehouses (most provisions had been hidden in a nearby ravine the previous night) and burned most buildings in the village.

Only one building, a tavern known as the “Mansion House”, survived the battle. This building was spared conflagration due the repeated efforts of commanding British naval officers who used the tavern to place fatally wounded American, Asher Warner who died later that day.

Another American wounded during the battle was Charles Terry who died from complications of his wounds a few weeks later.

Two British Marines are known to have been killed during the battle. Privates Job Allen and John Whammond of the 1st (Royal Scots) Regiment of Foot -1st Battalion died of wounds suffered during the battle according to the War of 1812 Casualty Database.

The  mural is dedicated to the bravery of those early patriots who defended this village and, it is hoped, whose courage may serve to inspire future generations.

For additional information about the Battle of Sodus Point, click the following link:

Norse Spear Head

 On Sodus Bay at Charles Point a Viking spear point was found in 1929 by Augustus Hoffman while repairing his boat. It was  properly identified from a study by the University of Toronto as being of Norse manufacture and dating to about 1000 AD.




The Spear Head now resides at the Wayne County Museum in Lyons, NY.

For more information,

click this link: