Ice cutters worked 10 hours a day, seven days of the week because the window for ice harvesting was so small, the Forest Preserve’s Ecker explained. It was tough, dangerous work because the ice was cold, slippery and heavy, and sharp tools were needed to harvest it.
The popularity of ice would ultimately lead to the demise of ice harvesting. As more and more people and businesses sought to cool their food and products, inventors continued to tinker with refrigeration, an idea that had been around since the 1700s. The first commercial ice making machine was invented in Australia in 1854.
An unusual mild winter in 1889-1890 that left most icehouses empty gave artificial ice the boost it needed to go mainstream, according to the historical society’s Vasco.
"This convinced shippers of produce that depending on Mother Nature’s bounty was not enough, and mechanical refrigeration soon took over."
(Lead image courtesy of Linda Ozbolt)
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