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Annual Ice Harvest Underway

Written by Dick Perue

Prior to the invention and use of the refrigerator, food was preserved and kept cool in “ice boxes,” which required chunks of ice cut from local sloughs, creeks and rivers.

The ice was harvested in winter months, stored in sheds filled with sawdust and then distributed to businesses and households during the warm summer days.

Harvesting ice was a necessary and newsworthy endeavor, as reported in a February issue of a Wyoming weekly newspaper in the 1920s.

The annual ice harvest will get under way here the latter part of this week or the first of next, according to Clark Wilcox, who is filing up his saws and greasing up his loading chutes in preparations for a busy several days. He has made tests of the ice on the Davidson slough a mile or so above town, where cutting will be done, and states the ice is of fine quality – clean and clear, and it will average 12 to 18 inches in thickness. There are several inches of snow on the ice, he says, and this is being plowed loose and cleaned off this week.

Mr. Wilcox expects to cut between 600 and 700 tons, about the same amount as last year, and hopes to deliver to the haulers from 50 to 60 tons per day. The ice will all be stored locally, by business houses and individuals, and several local storage houses will be filled to be retailed during the summer.

Supt. Ainsworth has a crew of men from the fisheries station cutting ice at a location down the river, which is being hauled and stored at the hatchery. He said between 35 and 40 tons will be cut.

Ice crop gathered

Another earlier account states,

George W. Sisson and C.S. Taylor have had teams busy for several days, up to and including Monday, gathering the ice crop.

It was feared that the warm weather, which had been with us since the first of the month, would clear the river of ice, but ice of a very excellent character was discovered just above the dam and 500 tons were cut and hauled in, filling up every ice house in town.

There will now be no lack of ice for the coming year.