Monday, January 18, 2016

Ice Harvesting in Sandusky

Before the advent of electricity and refrigeration, Sandusky’s natural harbor provided ice for local residents and businesses, and was also shipped by rail to other locations. An early document from the United States House of Representatives stated that Sandusky ice was in great demand in the 1880s. It was in good supply, was up to twenty inches thick, and it was clear as plate glass. The shipping of hundreds of tons of ice brought great profit to the railroads that transported it. The cities of Columbus, Cincinnati and Springfield purchased Sandusky ice in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Snow had to be cleared off the ice by horse drawn equipment in the early years of ice harvesting. Later mechanized equipment was used in ice harvesting.

After the ice was cleaned and scored, employees piked the blocks of ice. Then they were taken across a channel to the ice house.

The blocks of ice were loaded into the ice houses on a conveyor belt, awaiting shipment. Many fisheries in Sandusky harvested their own ice, in order to keep their fish fresh. In the late 1800s, dozens of ice houses were found along the shoreline. To read more about the natural ice industry in Sandusky, see Ron Davidson’s blog post in the January 20, 2014 online issue of the Sandusky Register. The picture below shows several employees who were packing blocks of ice in an ice house in Sandusky in 1929.

Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to learn more about the harvesting of ice in Sandusky.                     

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