Saturday, December 20, 2014


In old Amana, a farmer's and laborer's winter job was to deliver ice twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays to community kitchens and businesses with ice boxes for cold food storage. They were to collect surface ice from lakes and rivers for storage in the ice houses to use as a pre-refrigeration cooling method. The  12" thick ice was cut with large-blade hand saws. It was high quality, clear, and thick. Other communities' farmers bought it as well. The Lily Lake supplied Amana, Middle, and East. Ice for Homestead came from the man made "Ice Pond" and ice for South, West, and High was cut from the Iowa River. The ice, cut into large blocks from long, continuous strips,  was harvested with large tongs and pulled away with horses and sleds. Men also floated the blocks of ice up a small channel cut into the ice to guide it to the loading ramp where horses were waiting. And away they went!  Ice was then stored in ice houses with 16" walls built in the shade and filled with sawdust for insulation. The sawdust was also laid between ice layers which worked so well that there was ice left over at the end of the season! This required large crews of icemen,  which became obsolete with the development of refrigerator and air conditioning technology. Now, ice cutting demonstrations are done at Winterfest and other winter snow and ice events.

No comments:

Post a Comment