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Thread: Before Refrigeration how was ice sawn/stored/mined ?

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    , Dorset, Weymouth
    Blog Entries


    Many British stately houses had an ice house. Typically it was a large brick lined hole (often circular) dug into the ground with an entrance at ground level covered with a grass mound. In winter the servants would cut up the ice in the estate lake and store it in the ice house. Being well insulated by the ground, with the amount being required daily, it would probably last though out the year. One can still see many surviving ice houses at such properties as owned by the National Trust. As stated above straw makes a good insulator and may have been used to cover the stored ice.
    (A bear of little brain)

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    United States of America, Maine


    The key is to keep a large mass of ice, with as little surface area as possible. This does prevent melting because there is enough cold mass to offset the small point at which the melting occurs and thereat it forms an equilibrium. As my father said "There are two type of people, those who understand the second law of thermodynamics... and those who don't..."

    Ice was a huge business and a lake or pond could be known far and wide for the quality of the ice harvested from it. Some ponds were named for their use in making ice such as Ice House Pond in Acton, Ma and Icehouse Pond in Hopkington, MA (or even Icehouse Pond in Spilsby, UK).
    Big business means big money and made some folks rather rich. Check out Frederic Tudor or Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth of Boston for starters.

    I have a reprint of "'Woodwards National Architect' of 1869" and design #7 is of an "Ice House and Fruit Room" in 3 plates (29-31) of illustrations. The building is marked as a floor plan of 35' by 27' and some 25' to the peak of the roof (10.66 x 8.3 and 7.62 tall for our metric using folks). Plate 31 specifies a 2" x 8" stud (apparently on 2' center) for the exterior walls and is the only design in the book to have the stud pastern laid out in the main drawing. Measurements from plate #30 reveal the interior ice room as having a 6" wall (2x4 walls with 1" planking on both side is my supposition) with an additional 6" grey/hashed area inside that, apparently for insulation. The interior ice room is marked as measuring 15'4" by 12'4" without the supposed insulation, additionally it measures out to almost 14' tall (4.6736m by 3.7592m and 4.2672 tall). That gives me roughly 2,111 cu.ft. (59.7768 cubic meters) or almost 60,000 liters of ice storage if you account for 6" insulation all around it.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    United States of America, Nebraska, Lincoln


    Ice was cut from either rivers or lakes near the packing houses. For an example Ashland, Nebraska had two Icehouses where this took place one belonging to the Armor Packing House and Another one that belonged to the Swift Packing Company. Both claimed to be the Largest Ice plants in the world, The Swift Icehouse would flood land just to the Northwest of Ashland by diverting water from the nearby Wahoo Creek. after the Ice was frozen to a certain depth it would be cut by a device that looked much like a plow then poled to a conveyor system that fed it to the Icehouse, Where is as stored by insulating it with straw. As the Packing house which was located in South Omaha demanded, it was shipped in carload lots in icebunker cooled Refer cars to the plant. The Armor Icehouse which was 7 mile up the Ashland-Schuyler Branch line At a Small town Known as Memphis did much the same except it had a full time lake. Armor kept a crew of at least 25 people in the town or living near by and would ship in up to 300 workers in the Ice season. The swift and Company Icehouse was a 20-room, three-level, 192-by-685-foot ice house as well as a bunkhouse, barn and 10 other support buildings each room held 3000 tons of ice for a total of 60,000 tons the Ice was cut in 8 inch thick 20 by 40 inch slabs. In 1931 the Icehouse was destroyed by a Tornando and the land was returned to farming use. The Armor Icehouse was was destroyed by a fire in 1921, and in the 1930 the lake became what is Now the Memphis State Recreation Area.

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