When the most recent “What’s This?” item arrived, I immediately thought ice tongs, but Dick Ewald of Manitowoc, Wis., who sent in the photo, said not so fast. Tongs, yes. And most people can imagine them used to pull big blocks of ice from a body of water during the winter, or taking a block of ice from the ice house to use during the summer.
But Dick says these tongs were designed for transporting logs. Back when the modern Midwest was settled and developed, new residents cut down trees for several reasons: to open up space so they could farm the land, create space for a home to be built, to use the trees as lumber for the house or possibly to cut up so they could keep the house warm.
We received responses that gave the nod to logs and others to ice, and still others that didn’t mention either. Here are some of the responses:
This looks like a set of ice tongs. Heavy duty to attach a chain. I have a set with handles for carrying 50lbs or so. Ones with handles could be used to pull larger pieces that were too big to lift. I used these a lot many years ago. Jim Wissenburg, Crete, Neb.
Tongs to drag logs behind a team of horses. Joe Betz, Chapman, Kan. My guess is ice tongs. Paul Meyer, West Point, Neb.; My best guess is ice tongs for hoisting large blocks of ice before refrigeration. Van Schroeder
A hook butchers hung meat on and could butcher and turn the 1/4 on as they trimmed. Tom Schulz, Fulton, S.D.
Meat hook to hang butchered animals. Rich Locke, Stanton, Neb.
Ice tongs. Sandy Locke, Stanton, Neb.
The Bunkhouse gang agrees: ice block pick. I remember in the mid-1950s Dad cut lots of trees and sent them to a saw mill. The saw mill owner had a boom on his truck and picked up logs to cut. He had a hook that looked a lot like the “What’s This?”. Melvin Sporrer, Portsmouth, Iowa
Looks like a clench to lift hay in the peak of the barn, or large blocks of ice into or out of the “ice house.” Norma Troester, Auburn, Neb.
I think the mystery object is an ice tong. People used blocks of ice in their ice boxes. They would cut ice at ponds or other places where water was frozen. Guys would work as a team and put ice in ice houses. Neighbors worked together all the time. Richard Johnson, Ayr, Neb.
The guess is a log puller. Max Martin, Clay Center, Kan.
Log tongs or ice tongs. Wilbur Voth, Moundridge Kan.
Ice tongs, for picking or lifting ice blocks back in the day. Neal Neidig, Madison, Neb.
It’s an ice hook. Char Henton, Manhattan, Kan.