An article in the May 18, 1911 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal reported that 4000 pounds of live carp from Oscar Zistel’s wholesale fish company, on Meigs Street in Sandusky, were recently shipped to Philadelphia. Mr. Zistel, the Adams Express Company, and government officials all worked together on the venture. At one time the fish, which were introduced in the U.S. from other countries, were despised, known as “the hog of the waters,” but by the 1910s carp were considered a delicacy in some markets in the eastern U.S.
To ship the carp, first the fish were penned in floats on Sandusky Bay; then the floats were transported to the Pennsylvania freight house. The live fish were loaded onto a car on the Pennsylvania Railroad, which was refrigerated and had circulating water, to ensure the well being of the carp. The carp were taken out of the floats, placed into baskets, weighed, and put into the freshwater tanks on the railway car, where they traveled from Mansfield to Pittsburgh, and then on to Philadelphia.The trip to Philadelphia was over 500 miles, and an expert aboard the railroad monitored the refrigeration and air tanks in the fish tanks. The Star Journal article stated that the Jewish residents of Philadelphia were so eager to purchase the fresh fish that they bought it straight from the train car, where the fresh carp sold for eighteen to twenty cents per pound.
In 1913 and 1914, Oscar Zistel received patents for fish transporting devices. Patent number 1,109,193 was for the improvement of an aerating device which could be useful in the transporting of live fish. Patent number 1,227,732, issued in 1917, was for an automobile which could be used to transport live fish.
Sadly, Oscar Zistel died in 1918, before his vehicle could be fully developed. Several patents issued between 1951 and 2011 cited technology that Zistel had patented. The Zistel family was quite entrepreneurial. Oscar’s father Louis Zistel carried passengers to Cedar Point in the 1870s, and was the proprietor of the Atlantic Pleasure Gardens, a saloon and entertainment center on Meigs Street.