By Susan Kosky

Most of us take for granted the convenience of going to the freezer section of our refrigerator to get ice cubes for a cold drink. And some may remember the days before electrified refrigeration became mainstream when the icebox was the common method of keeping food cold. In the nineteenth century and first part of the twentieth century blocks of ice were either delivered to one’s home (by horse and cart) or ice was available for purchase at a local business. Besides the icebox, some homes, particularly in rural areas, had icehouses.

Ice harvesting goes back to 1780 BC in Mesopotamia. Ice pits, used to store food and ice, were found later in Greece, China and other Asian countries. In some countries ice was harvested in the mountains and brought to the valley for use by those who could afford it.

In the United States during the 1800s, axes and saws were used to harvest ice from rivers, lakes and ponds. Nathaniel J. Wyeth invented a horse drawn ice cutter in 1827, enabling ice to be cut in rectangular blocks. Wyeth, who lived near Boston, also invented ice cutting tools and ice tongs for lifting blocks of ice.

Harvesting ice from the Saline River had its pros and cons. One of the pros was the use of the ice by the Alber Bakery to make ice cream. One of the cons was that the Lindenschmidt Slaughterhouse was located near the river.