15 Sweet Vintage Snapshots of Making Maple Syrup

Maple syrup has long been the perfect complement to waffles and pancakes, but the good stuff doesn't come from Mrs. Butterworth. Enjoy some classic shots of gathering maple syrup.

Maple syrup has long been the perfect complement to waffles and pancakes, but the good stuff doesn’t come from Mrs. Butterworth.

The New England Maple Museum traces maple syrup’s history back to an Iroquois legend. A hunter, returning to his lodgings, noticed a sweet smell in the air while his companion was boiling meat. The scent had been produced by fluid that had been placed in the kettle, which he later discovered to be sap from a maple tree.

When European settlers arrived, they learned from the secrets of sugaring sap into syrup from the Native Americans, but added their own improvements, such as the spouts and buckets attached to maple trees that we often see today.

As time went on, the sugaring process became a social event in which the whole family could participate, as some photos from the Library of Congress illustrate. From collecting the sap, to transporting and boiling it, it was a sweet community event that led to an even sweeter ending.

Maple Syrup 1

Making maple syrup in the good old-fashioned way, ca. 1906.

Maple Syrup 2

Mr. Walter Gaylord “firing” the King evaporator during boiling of maple syrup, ca. 1940.

Maple Syrup 3

A child sitting on top of a vat and sled in which sap for maple syrup is gathered.

Maple Syrup 4

Dripping the boiled-down maple syrup to see if it has reached the correct consistency, ca. 1940.

Maple Syrup 5

Taking dad’s place driving the sled of sap back to the sugar house, ca. 1940.

Maple Syrup 7

Taking a break from gathering sap in knee-deep snow, ca.1940

Maple Syrup 9

Hired man and neighbor of Frank H. Shurtleff resting and chatting while gathering sap from sugar trees to make syrup, ca. 1940.

Maple Syrup 10

Gathering sap from maple trees and hauling it back to the sugar house, ca. 1940.

Maple Syrup 12

Trudging back and forth through the snow with buckets of sap, ca. 1940.

Maple Syrup 13

Walter Gaylord drilling hole in maple tree to get sap which will later be boiled down into maple syrup.

Maple Syrup 14

Boiling down sap into maple syrup in the evaporator, ca. 1940.

Maple Syrup 16

Hanging the bucket on the spout while tapping a sugar maple tree for gathering sap to make syrup, ca. 1940.

Maple Syrup 17

A hired man, neighbor Julia Fletcher, collie dog, and Frank H. Shurtleff’s son gathering sap from sugar trees, ca. 1940.

Maple Syrup 18

Walter Gaylord syruping off the maple sap has finally boiled it down in the evaporator to the correct syrup consistency.
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