Some things in life nowadays seems trivial, but in the past they were unthinkable, … for example ice.
With the arrival of refrigerators and other similar devices in our modern times, it has become possible for us to have ice all year-round. Now … imagine yourself on Madeira Island 100 years ago …. how could you get any ice? It was only possible during the winter and in the highest regions of the island, when it snowed or hailed.
Madeira ancestors solved that problem by building reservoirs in which they could store and preserve the ice and snow that winter brought to them those days. The ice was then used by hospitals and hotels, … and it was kept in the famous Wells of Snow (Poços da Neve).
These wells were based on deep excavations, walled and covered with stone chips to the surface, being shaped like an igloo. They were built in the mountains of São Roque and the area of Pico do Arieiro.
According to history, the snow and ice were stored in these pits of snow, and then carried on the back in the leather bags … all the way to their final destination. It was no doubt a tremendous achievement.
Only one of these reservoirs have been, fortunately, preserved and it has reached our days, still in a good condition. The well is situated near the Pico do Arieiro at the Ecological Park at an altitude of 1,600 meters.
The well is not being used anymore as a deposit for snow, but it still reminds us of the ingenuity of the Madeiran ancestors and how the solved their problems in those days.