Before the electric refrigerator…

havesting-iceBefore the dawn of the electric refrigerator, the ice box kept things cold. Needless to say, there was a need to harvest and store ice.

Iceboxes date back to the days of ice harvesting, which had hit an industrial high that ran from the mid-19th century to the 1930s, just before the refrigerator was introduced into the home.

What is an icebox?

Iceboxes had hollow walls lined with tin or zinc and packed with various insulating materials such as cork, sawdust, straw or seaweed. A large block of ice was held in a tray or compartment near the top of the box. Cold air circulated down and around storage compartments in the lower section.  The user had to replenish the melted ice, normally by obtaining new ice from an iceman.

Most municipalities used ice that was harvested in winter from snow-packed areas, ponds or frozen lakes, where it was stored it in ice houses, and then delivered domestically to homes for iceboxes.

The photo above, taken from a reprint that was in the local newspaper some years ago,  shows ice being cut and harvested in Middleport that was most likely about 100 years ago.

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