Cranberry bog research

Material Information

Cranberry bog research
Cangelosi, Robert
Smith, Craven
Dessauer, Peter
Watson, Bob
Place of Publication:
Nantucket, MA
Preservation Institute: Nantucket
College of Architecure, University of Florida
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
43p. : 4 maps, pamphlet, photos.


General Note:
AFA HP document 841

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved by the source institution.

UFDC Membership

Historic Preservation @ UF

Full Text


Robbie Cangelosi
Craven Smith
P~bmr Dessauer
Bob Watson


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Cultivation and Processing

Cranberries were first cultivated in the United States

in 1816 in Massachusetts. Henry Hall of Dennis, Cape Cod

observed the special conditions necessary for wild cran-

berries and tried to duplicate them. These conditions

included acid sandy soil, a layer of peat under the sand,

and a damp climate. It was noticed that the healthiest

wild cranberries grew in soil that was often covered by

fresh sand blown from nearby sand dunes. Once planted a

cranberry vine must mature three years before it will pro-

duce berries, then it will continue to produce berries for

up to 100 years. Bees are used to pollinate the blossoms.

Cultivated cranberries are grown in bogs which consist

of a series of dikes and canals and can be flooded. The

bogs are not flooded for irrigation purposes; the layer of

peat provides needed moisture. They are flooded to protect

the berries from early frosts in the fall, to protect the

plants in the winter, and sometimes to aid in harvesting

the berries. If there is a frost at night in September or

October before the berries are picked the bogs must be

flooded or the berries will be killed. Before the sun can

heat the water the next morning the bog must be drained or

the berries will be scalded. To protect the plants in

Nantucket the bogs are flooded continuously from the

first hard freeze of winter until the fifteenth of April.

The times differ in other regions. In the spring the canals

are cleaned of weeds and debris, the dikes are repaired,

and the pumps are serviced to prepare for another season.

Every three years the bogs are covered with a one

inch thick layer of sand, as learned from observation of

wild cranberries. It is believed that the layer of dead

cranberry leaves that gather on the ground under the vines

are toxic to the plant and by covering the dead leaves with

sand the plants are protected.

On Nantucket and Cape Cod pests must be controlled.

These include insects, fireworms, ducks and pheasants. On

Nantucket before aerial crop dusting became common it took

a man one hour per acre to spread insecticide. Three dustings

a year were needed. In 1948 using airplanes 300 acres could

be dusted in six hours. Birds are also used to control


To control weeds 1200 gallons of kerosene per acre

was spread over the bogs by truck. The kerosene killed the

weeds but did not affect the cranberries. Today kerosene is

still used on some bogs to control weeds but DDT for the

control of insects has not been used since 1967.

Another threat to the cranberry crop, this one un-

controllable, is high temperature. Extended periods of

unseasonably high temperatures will cook the berries.

Cranberries are harvested in early fall. On Nantucket

the variety of berry known as Early Black is picked during

September. The Howe variety is then harvested in early October.

The cranberry scoop was invented about 100 years ago

but hand picking did not die out entirely until the 1930's.

Although very difficult, time-consuming work, hand picking

allowed few of the berries to be missed. When the wooden

scoop came into use the harvesting could be accomplished

faster, up to 100 pounds an hour, but more of the berries

stayed on the vines. After World War II two mechanical

pickers were invented; the Western picker and the Darlington

picker. These machines have tines that get under the berries

and hold them while the vines are rolled away by the forward

motion of the machine. A man using one of these machines

can pick 100 to 300 boxes a day. The machines did not pull

on the roots of the bushes as the scoop did, but ten to

twenty percent of the crop was lost due to bruising of the


In Massachusetts today thirty percent of the harvesting

is done by wet picking. In Wisconsin almost the entire

crop is wet picked. The bog is flooded and a machine beats

the bushes causing the berries to detach and float to the

surface. They are then floated to one side of the bog using

two-by-fours hinged together and loaded on waiting trucks

by conveyer belts. Wet picked berries are usually mechanically

dried. Sometimes bogs are flooded after dry picking to

gather any berries that were missed.

In Washington and Oregon some growers use a vacuum

harvesting machine which pulls the berries off the vines by

suction. It is mainly used on young plants or hard to

reach areas.

In the sorting and packing shed the berries are

first blasted with a strong current of air to remove weeds,

chaff, and dirt. The most common method of sorting the

berries is with a Bailey separator, a machine invented in

the early twentieth century. The berries are dropped

through a series of seven levels in the separator. At

each level the berries have a chance to bounce over a four

inch high wooden barrier and be taken away as good berries.

If they do not bounce over they drop to the next level.

If they reach the bottom level they are discarded. After

a visual inspection and polishing by soft brushes they are

boxed or bagged and shipped or are processed. Usually

berries that are water picked are used to make cranberry

juice or cranberry sauce as the water tends to soften them

and make them unsuitable to sell as fresh fruit. When made

into cranberry sauce the natural pectin in the berries

causes jelling.

Research at the Cranberry Experimental Station on

Cape Cod is progressing continuously. New varieties are

not experimented with very often as it takes at least

fifteen years after crossing plants before results can be

determined. Experiments done in 1929 which consisted of

over 50,000 cross breeding of plants are now being

analyzed at the Experimental Station. Research is done to

find more efficient ways to harvest the berries and better

methods of controlling insects and weeds. Progress is

being made in 1909 the maximum yield was 20 boxes per

acre, in 1952 it was 40 boxes per acre, and in 1971 it

was 97 boxes per acre..

Today 900 growers belong to Ocean Spray Cranberry, Inc.,

a cooperative formed in 1930 in which the stock a grower can

hold is proportional to the amount of cranberries he grows,

Ocean Spray has packing and processing plants in the five

major cranberry states; Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin,

Washington, and Oregon. Cranberries are also cultivated in

British Columbia and Quebec. Ninety percent of the cran-

berries grown in the world, however, are within a 15 mile

radius of the Ocean Spray processing plant at Middleboro,


SOURCES (Cultivation and Processing)

"Five Seasons Cranberry Book", Better Homes & Gardens, 1971.

Scrapbook #3 of Grace Brown Gardener in Peter Folger Library.

"Cranberries: The Year-round Berries With Bounce", Pamphlet
distributed by Ocean Spray.

"Cranberries", manilla folder in Peter Folger Library
containing article about Nantucket bogs.

"Encylopedia Britannica",(Cranberry)

Dr. Chester Cross at the U. of Mass. Cranberry Experimental
Station in Wareham, Mass.

William Harriman at the Ocean Spray plant in Middleboro,

Cranberry Scoop- found in Peter Foulger Museum

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Bailey Cranberry Separater

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Bailey Cranberry Separater- sorts out the firm, good
berries from the soft fruit.


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Pulley System in Screen House used to run Bailey Separater.

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Peter F. Dessauer
Preservation Institute


Gibbs Swamp is named after John Gibbs, an Indian who

lived there in the 17th century. Legend and folklore tell of

an ancient Indian sachem named Tashama who inhabited the bog.

1820-1821 Gibbs Swamp legally divided into shares by

proprietors for a sheep common.

1830's-1840's a Gibbs Swamp was also used as a peat bog;

in 1906 workers uncovered a peat sled with the name Peter

Chase inscribed upon it; Chase died in 1842.

A survey map of Nantucket farms 1850, published in

the August 9th 1947 issue of the Inquirer and Mirror shows

a farm, owned by Albert Easton and called "Tashama Island",

located on Gibbs Swamp territory. (See G.B. Gardner, Book #3).

Cranberry growing on Nantucket began in 1857 when islanders,

feeling the pinch of depression and the decline of the whaling

industry, sought new ways to invest money and revitalize the

island's economy.

1857 Inquirer and Mirror had an article about possibilities

of a cranberry industry on Nantucket. Mr. Henry Coffin started

a bog near Miacomet Pond. Mr. Henry Swain and Captain J. Gardner

started cranberry fields at Polpis: theibPlots were five

acres in size; harvests amounting to 100 bushels or more per

acre were expected after a four year period when vines were


1859 Published warning of penalties against probable

cranberry thieves.

Afetr this no further mention of bogs for fifty years.

No great profits.

1905 September: Fire rages through Gibbs Swamp, de-

stroying all growth and vegetation. Discouraged by the Confla-

gration, bog owners begin to sell shares of Gibbs Swamp to

Richard E. Burgess.

Fire facilitated "grubbing" clearance process before


1905 Falls Richard E. Burgess organized the Burgess

Cranberry Co. and put 10 acres under cultivation.

Burgess bought the Gibbs Swamp interest of Robert Coffin,

Charles F. Coffin, and Sidney B. Folger in Watershed of Tom

Nevers Pond.

Burgess property extended State Road on south to beach

at Tom Nevers Head, south highway on north to Gibbs Pond, plus

300 acres of Gibbs Swamp.

1906 January workers on the bog discover peat sled of

Peter Chase. His name inscribed on it; found two feet deep

into soil. Chase died in 1842.

Burgess continues to purchase Gibbs Swamp territories.

1907 Announcement for the sale of 200 shares of Burgess

cranberry stock at $50.00 per share.

Purchase from Franklin Smith, treasurer of the Burgess

Cranberry Company, 62 Devonshire Street, Boston, Massachusetts.

At this point 100 acres were under cultivation; more

capital was needed through the sale of stock.

1908 The burgess Cranberry Company was advertising stock

at $50.00 per share.

1909 In Januarys the stock prices rise.

In October of the year the Burgess Cranberry Co.

advertises the sale of Cranberry Bog postcards.

1911 (January)

Jan. 14 Franklin E. Smith buysI the Burgess Cranberry Co. -

all 732,7 acres. Property on which no taxes had been paid.

Nantucket Cranberry Company formed.

Jan. 14 report that Franklin E. Smith bought:

285 acres of Norwood plot
251 '" Nevers Swamp plot
176.9 acres on north head of Long Pond
100 acres on Jeremy Cove plot
654 acres on Myrick and Easton plots.

Jan. crop from last fall harvest was 3279 barrels. Stock

selling at $60.00 per share.

1913 October advertisement for Nantucket Cranberry Co.

tax exempt stock, $60.00 per share, dividends guaranteed.

1933 Production record 5,000 barrels

1935 Since the 13th of September Nantucket has sent to

the mainland over million pounds of cranberries.

Flood on the market forces prices down.

1940-1945 War Years a Production declines due to scarcity

of labor.

1948 Bog development down to 300 acres. Production at 10%

capacity. Three to four thousand barrels expected this year.

1952 December 1 s Franklin E. Smith, treasurer of

the Nantucket Cranberry Co., former director and president of

the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association, died at the age

of 75.

1953 June 12 : Island Cranberry Company asks $25,000.00

from Smith Estate. Bog production in decline.

1955 November i The largest crop since the 1940's;

350,000 pounds. Harvested on 100 acres = 3800 barrels of


Mr. W. Marland Roundsville, owner of Windswept Cranberries

and lessee of Gibbs Bog, manages production of the Smith Estate.

1959 Six Nantucketers: April

Richard B. Corkish
Franklin Bartlett
J. Gordon MacDonald
Albert L. Silva
Robert Congdon
Albert F. Egan, Jr.

Form a corporation called the Nantucket Cranberries, Inc.

and purchased the Nantucket Cranberry Co. shares from the

Franklin Smith Estate; price for 85% stock not disclosed.

R.D. Congdon becomes president of the Nantucket Cranberry Co.

1,141 acre tract: 331 in cultivation
810 underdeveloped.

1960 November : 90 acres in cultivation. Hopes for new

profits with scientific farming methods.

Robert Congdon is president of the Nantucket Cranberries, Inc.

Albert F. Egan is secreary-treasurer.

Automatic sander purchased. Production that year = 700 barrels.

1961 Production is 1,300 barrels.

1962 Production of 3,330 barrels. Purchase of 20 bee-

hives made during the last 3 years.

1968 Conservation Foundation: Arthur Dean, Walter Beinecke, Jr.,

and Roy E. Larsen purchased a total of 1,003 acres of Cranberry

Company land to be incorporated into the conservation program.

100 acres were under cultivation at this time the same

plot which was the original site of cranberry cultivation in

Gibbs Pond when it began there in 1857.



1. Scrapbook of Grace Brown Gardner at the Folger Museum. #3

2. Newspaper articles from back issues of the Inquirer & Mirror

3. Registry of Deeds Office Nantucket Town Hall.

4. "Cranberry Land U.S.A.", article in manilla folder at the
Folger Museum.

5. "Cranberry Bog and North Plains", pages 31-32, from
Nantucket Conservation Foundation, Inc.
Nantucket Conservation Foundation, Inc.
Copyright 1972
Nantucket, Massachusetts


Tommy Larabie
John Gaspie, Jr.
Ed Falk of Ocean Spray
Marland Rounsville
Mrs. Maglathlin

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Building inventory for the Gibbs Swamp cranberry bog,
compiled from the tax accessors records





listed as "buildings"

listed as Store house and buildings

listed as

listed as

12 small houses
1 dwelling
1 dwelling
packing shed and storage
2 shacks and buildings
engine house
engine house
screen house and storage
new screen house and dwelling
engine house

8 buildings
1 building
3 buildings
1 building
new pump house
2 engine houses
2 old buildings
old screen house

1938-1940 list in addition to the 1934 inventory an airplane

1948- 1950 listed as 9 buildings
large building
large barn
new pump house
2 engine houses
old screen house
new screen house

1951 listed as 6 buildings
1 building
dwelling, garage
new pump house
2 engine houses
old screen house
new screen house






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1. Original Map of Gibbs Swamp
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Proprietors Bk. (Plan Book) #1
Found in Registry of Deeds Office

2. 1914 Plan of Land in Nantucket

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Long before the white man came to the new world, cranberries were an important
American food.
Indian squaws made use of the cranberry's tart flavor in pemmican cakes, a bland
mixture of dried deer meat and meal. It also livened the taste of succotash, a concoction of
corn, beans and fish. Sometimes the juice of the native berry was used to give bright color
to their rugs and blankets, and the Pequod Indians of Cape Cod made a cranberry poultice
to treat wounds from poisoned arrows.
Pilgrim women loved color, too, and brightened their somber clothing with a dash
of color when possible. One of the most treasured items in Mary Ring's wardrobe, itemized
at the time of her death at Plimoth in 1633, was a red petticoat, valued at 16 shillings.
So it is little wonder that Pilgrim women were glad to learn about wild cranberries
from the friendly Indians, and began at once to develop their own ways to serve them .
sauces, bubbling tarts, and later cranberry nags.
Cranberries were called "Sassamanesh" by the eastern Indians, "Atoqua" by the
Algonquians in Wisconsin, and in New Jersey, where cranberries were the symbol of peace,
"Pakimintzen" meant cranberry eater.
The word "cranberry" was not derived from any of the Indian names but was a con-
traction of crane berry, an early name given to the fruit because the pale pink blossom
resembled the head of a crane. The birds also frequented the lowlands where cranberries
grew and feasted upon the ripe berries.
Just as English seamen were called limeyss," the early American sailor could have
been called a "crannie" as cranberries were carried aboard ships leaving Cape Cod for
China, India and other distant ports. The cranberries were stored in barrels of cold water and

served regularly to the crew to provide Vita-

min C and ward off the dreaded scurvy.

Cranberry cultivation had its begin- ls

ning in Massachusetts nearly 200 years

after the landing of the Pilgrims. By that

time the American appetite had been

whetted for the wild fruit, and in England aw.

bottle of imported cranberries was selling Mechanical picking machines have replaced the picturesque
hand scoops to bring in the cranberry harvest quicker with less
for five shillings (nearly $1.25). danger of frost damage, but the scoop is still used to reach
the fruit growing along the irrigation ditches. Handscoopers
get down on their knees and push the scoop before them, the
Henry Hall of Dennis, Cape Cod, noticed wooden tines gently combing the berries from the vines.

that cranberries seemed to grow larger and juicier where sand from the dunes blew over

the vines. From this observation in 1816 came the cultivation methods of today which bring

forth an annual fall harvest of well over 120 million pounds of berries from the cranberry

producing states of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Washington and Oregon.

Even though cranberry plantations are often called "bogs," the fruit does not grow in

water as might be supposed, but does grow

Saon swamp land near a water supply which
Provides frost protection and irrigation so

necessary for a bountiful crop.

It takes about five years from the time

a bog is first planted until it bears its first

full harvest. After swamp has been cleared

In Wisconsin, the cranberry marshes are flooded during harvest of trees and brush, narrow ditches are dug
to bring the berries to the surface. Mechanical pickers, ridden
by the harvesters, then scoop up the berries and load them by and the water is drained off. The peat soil
conveyor belt onto the flat boats towed along behind. The
fruit is trucked to mechanical dryers where the water is
quickly evaporated. is then leveled and spread with a layer of

sand, about 3 inches thick. Cuttings from cranberry vines are planted deep enough so they

root in the peat soil beneath the sand. Vines, set about 6 inches apart, gradually spread

over the area and form a thick green carpet which, with care, will bear fruit indefinitely.

Care means weeding in the spring, pruning in the fall, fertilizing and re-sanding every

three or four years. The vines must be flooded when frost threatens and irrigated in time of

drouth. They need the help of the birds to take care of insects and of bees to pollinate the

blossoms. On the West Coast, sometimes a grower will use geese to help him with

his weeding.

A cranberry bog bears fruit once a year and that is in September when the first nip of

fall puts the brilliant color in the bouncy berry. Until about a hundred years ago, cran-

berries were picked by hand, and it was the custom of everyone in the area-all ages, all

professions-to join in the harvest. Even school sessions were regulated so children and

schoolmasters could help with the work and join in the fun.

As the little red berry grew into big business, the harvest gave up some of its com-

munity flavor but none of its zest and color. Cranberry growers developed the wooden

cranberry scoop to speed up the harvest and for over a century, cranberry crops were

brought in by gayly dressed harvesters, down on their knees, pushing the scoops before

them. The wooden tines of the hand-hewn scoop gently combed the fruit from the vines.

Since World War II, the unique wooden scoops are found more readily in antique

shops, and mechanical pickers have replaced them on the cranberry bogs.

There are several kinds of mechanical pickers now in use, and they vary in appearance

and method. Self-powered, they can be operated by one man who guides, rather than

pushes, them up and down the bog. The machines have fingers similar to the tines on the

scoop and these get under the berries and hold them while the vines are rolled away by

Cranberries must have bounce to make the grade. In the Moving on canvas belts, cranberries pass between rows of
separator, each berry is given 7 chances to bounce over women trained to detect any berries not up to Ocean Spray
wooden barriers about 4 inches high.,Those that fail are requirements. Berries for the fresh market go directly from
dropped through the machines and are discarded. Those with the screening room to the packaging machines. Berries for
plenty of bounce go on to pass other tests before they can ready-to-serve products go either to the wash tanks for immedi-
wear the Ocean Spray brand, ate processing or are held in freezers until they are needed.

the forward motion of the machines. A conveyor belt carries the berries to the harvest boxes

or bags attached to the back of the machine.

In Wisconsin, cranberries are "water picked." The mechanical picker, travelling the

"marsh" flooded for the harvest, is followed by a small tractor called a "bug." The bug pulls

a box or flatboat to hold the berries. When full, the boat is left at the edge of the bog where

it is lifted by a hydraulic-driven device and emptied into waiting dump trucks. The berries

are then quickly dried so the dampness will not impair their quality.

Most cranberry growers belong to Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., a national growers

cooperative with packing and processing plants near the five main cranberry growing

areas. They deliver their freshly harvested crops to the cooperative's receiving stations

every fall to be processed and marketed, and the earnings are returned to the grower-

members as the fruit is sold.

The fruit must meet exacting standards of quality before going into fresh fruit pack-

ages, processed products, or into storage freezers. After passing through the winnowing

machine to blow out the.chaff, a cranberry must prove it has bounce. Based on the knowl-

edge that a good firm berry will bounce and a soft one won't, the separators give each berry

7 chances to bounce over four inch wooden barriers. Any that can't make it are discarded.

Only the lively ones go on to the screening rooms where a canvas belt carries them between

rows of women who pick out any fruit not up to Ocean Spray standards.

The same care goes into the packaging of fresh cranberries and the processing of

Ocean Spray's many products-Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry Juice Cocktail, Cranberry-Orange

Relish, Cranapple-as our native cranberries continue to be an American food tradition.

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