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Jan 14, 2022 12:20:37   #
tommystrat Loc: Northwest Montana
 
This is a structure that was essential to living in the early 1900's in NW Montana. Built in 1901, it provided a necessary commodity to the residents of Somers, a small town on the northern shore of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi!

Give up? Description below...


In 1901, local Montana entrepreneur John O’Brien struck a deal with James J. Hill, the Great Northern Railway tycoon, to build and run a railroad spur line and sawmill in Somers, named after George Somers, an executive of the operation.

The sawmill provided lumber and much-needed railroad ties for the expansion of the Great Northern Railway. Likewise, the Somers Lumber Company also provided ice for hauling perishable goods and use on passenger cars. The ice was stored in the ice house pictured below!

Ice was harvested from the lake usually in late January and kept in the ice house year round. To keep ice cold – especially in the summer when it was needed most – the ice house was designed with several deceptively simple features.

For example, there are two layers of wood siding. One layer of wood siding runs diagonally along the side of the ice house. This layer is covered by another layer of horizontal wood siding. Together, these two layers provide strength and insulation to the walls.

The walls were three feet thick and were filled with sawdust to provide even more insulation. And this ice house had no shortage of sawdust, since it was in the middle of the Somers Lumber Company – the largest sawmill in the Flathead Valley at the time, producing about 600,000 railroad ties per year for the growing railroad.

The second-story door (not pictured - it's on the other side) may seem oddly out of place. However, it was used to load ice down into railroad freight cars, and later special “reefer” or refrigerator cars. This was dangerous work and falling and freezing were not uncommon tragedies.

Also, the two cupola atop the roof aren’t just for decoration. They are an integral part of a venting system designed to let warm air draft out and help keep the ice from melting.

While the ice house was well built and worked well, history would alter its utility.

By 1930, the introduction of electric refrigeration altered the need for natural ice. The use of the General Electric, the Frigidaire, the Kelvinator and other electric refrigerators spread during 1930 through 1960. And the ice houses across the nation soon became obsolete.

About the same time, expansion of the Great Northern Railway had run its course and a half million railroad ties were no longer needed every year.

The sawmill was shuttered in 1949. Since then, the ice house has survived...


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Jan 14, 2022 12:36:22   #
Iron Sight Loc: Utah
 
Interesting

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Jan 14, 2022 12:37:18   #
joecichjr Loc: Chicago S. Suburbs, Illinois, USA
 
tommystrat wrote:
This is a structure that was essential to living in the early 1900's in NW Montana. Built in 1901, it provided a necessary commodity to the residents of Somers, a small town on the northern shore of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi!

Give up? Description below...


In 1901, local Montana entrepreneur John O’Brien struck a deal with James J. Hill, the Great Northern Railway tycoon, to build and run a railroad spur line and sawmill in Somers, named after George Somers, an executive of the operation.

The sawmill provided lumber and much-needed railroad ties for the expansion of the Great Northern Railway. Likewise, the Somers Lumber Company also provided ice for hauling perishable goods and use on passenger cars. The ice was stored in the ice house pictured below!

Ice was harvested from the lake usually in late January and kept in the ice house year round. To keep ice cold – especially in the summer when it was needed most – the ice house was designed with several deceptively simple features.

For example, there are two layers of wood siding. One layer of wood siding runs diagonally along the side of the ice house. This layer is covered by another layer of horizontal wood siding. Together, these two layers provide strength and insulation to the walls.

The walls were three feet thick and were filled with sawdust to provide even more insulation. And this ice house had no shortage of sawdust, since it was in the middle of the Somers Lumber Company – the largest sawmill in the Flathead Valley at the time, producing about 600,000 railroad ties per year for the growing railroad.

The second-story door (not pictured - it's on the other side) may seem oddly out of place. However, it was used to load ice down into railroad freight cars, and later special “reefer” or refrigerator cars. This was dangerous work and falling and freezing were not uncommon tragedies.

Also, the two cupola atop the roof aren’t just for decoration. They are an integral part of a venting system designed to let warm air draft out and help keep the ice from melting.

While the ice house was well built and worked well, history would alter its utility.

By 1930, the introduction of electric refrigeration altered the need for natural ice. The use of the General Electric, the Frigidaire, the Kelvinator and other electric refrigerators spread during 1930 through 1960. And the ice houses across the nation soon became obsolete.

About the same time, expansion of the Great Northern Railway had run its course and a half million railroad ties were no longer needed every year.

The sawmill was shuttered in 1949. Since then, the ice house has survived...
This is a structure that was essential to living i... (show quote)


A great image, Tommy 💙💙💙💙💙

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Jan 14, 2022 12:40:26   #
UTMike Loc: South Jordan, UT
 
Good photos and interesting narrative, Tommy!

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Jan 14, 2022 12:53:34   #
Longshadow Loc: Audubon, PA, United States
 

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Jan 14, 2022 13:16:09   #
rmorrison1116 Loc: Southeast, Southcentral PA
 
Ice houses were common all over the USA. The suburban Philadelphia town I grew up in had a huge icehouse that was built with bricks. Just upstream from where I worked is a dammed-up section of river, where they use to harvest ice, and the remains of the railroad bed that was used to haul the ice away.
Anyway, cool photo of the old icehouse. Most of them are gone now.

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Jan 14, 2022 15:25:35   #
robertjerl Loc: Corona, California
 
Nice shots and an interesting history.


In the 50's in my little home town in Western Kentucky some people still had ice boxes. My Great Aunt was one. A Great Uncle had a restaurant on US 60 where it went through the middle of downtown and he got ice from the plant to break up to use in drinks (he had refrigerators for food storage). Down by the Illinois Central tracks there was a small ice plant that had the ability to freeze ice. Thick concrete double walls with fill between and in the central room there was a square concrete pool about the size of a backyard "dough boy" pool and two feet deep with cooling coils on all sides and the bottom. It was run by an old man who was a WW I veteran and had no close relatives left. He lived in a small 1930's era trailer nearby. On hot summer days he would let groups of kids go into the freezer room to experience the coolness and when he cut the ice up he would save chunks that broke off to use in drinks himself or hand out to the kids on hot days.

Small town life in the 50's was a whole different world than most people today have ever known.

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Jan 14, 2022 22:34:57   #
Curmudgeon Loc: SE Arizona
 
Beautiful shot and great information. I remember having an Ice Box and the ice man delivering M, W, F. It sat in a galvanized tray and Mom would soak up the melt water with a towel.

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Jan 15, 2022 05:48:18   #
J-SPEIGHT Loc: Akron, Ohio
 
tommystrat wrote:
This is a structure that was essential to living in the early 1900's in NW Montana. Built in 1901, it provided a necessary commodity to the residents of Somers, a small town on the northern shore of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi!

Give up? Description below...


In 1901, local Montana entrepreneur John O’Brien struck a deal with James J. Hill, the Great Northern Railway tycoon, to build and run a railroad spur line and sawmill in Somers, named after George Somers, an executive of the operation.

The sawmill provided lumber and much-needed railroad ties for the expansion of the Great Northern Railway. Likewise, the Somers Lumber Company also provided ice for hauling perishable goods and use on passenger cars. The ice was stored in the ice house pictured below!

Ice was harvested from the lake usually in late January and kept in the ice house year round. To keep ice cold – especially in the summer when it was needed most – the ice house was designed with several deceptively simple features.

For example, there are two layers of wood siding. One layer of wood siding runs diagonally along the side of the ice house. This layer is covered by another layer of horizontal wood siding. Together, these two layers provide strength and insulation to the walls.

The walls were three feet thick and were filled with sawdust to provide even more insulation. And this ice house had no shortage of sawdust, since it was in the middle of the Somers Lumber Company – the largest sawmill in the Flathead Valley at the time, producing about 600,000 railroad ties per year for the growing railroad.

The second-story door (not pictured - it's on the other side) may seem oddly out of place. However, it was used to load ice down into railroad freight cars, and later special “reefer” or refrigerator cars. This was dangerous work and falling and freezing were not uncommon tragedies.

Also, the two cupola atop the roof aren’t just for decoration. They are an integral part of a venting system designed to let warm air draft out and help keep the ice from melting.

While the ice house was well built and worked well, history would alter its utility.

By 1930, the introduction of electric refrigeration altered the need for natural ice. The use of the General Electric, the Frigidaire, the Kelvinator and other electric refrigerators spread during 1930 through 1960. And the ice houses across the nation soon became obsolete.

About the same time, expansion of the Great Northern Railway had run its course and a half million railroad ties were no longer needed every year.

The sawmill was shuttered in 1949. Since then, the ice house has survived...
This is a structure that was essential to living i... (show quote)



Reply
Jan 15, 2022 07:45:12   #
randave2001 Loc: Richmond
 
Great shot and interesting narrative. Wonder how cold it would get in the summer?

Reply
Jan 15, 2022 08:01:01   #
cedymock Loc: Irmo, South Carolina
 
Great photograph with story and educational information; just wonderful!

Reply
 
 
Jan 15, 2022 08:13:39   #
Manglesphoto Loc: 70 miles south of St.Louis
 
tommystrat wrote:
This is a structure that was essential to living in the early 1900's in NW Montana. Built in 1901, it provided a necessary commodity to the residents of Somers, a small town on the northern shore of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi!

Give up? Description below...


In 1901, local Montana entrepreneur John O’Brien struck a deal with James J. Hill, the Great Northern Railway tycoon, to build and run a railroad spur line and sawmill in Somers, named after George Somers, an executive of the operation.

The sawmill provided lumber and much-needed railroad ties for the expansion of the Great Northern Railway. Likewise, the Somers Lumber Company also provided ice for hauling perishable goods and use on passenger cars. The ice was stored in the ice house pictured below!

Ice was harvested from the lake usually in late January and kept in the ice house year round. To keep ice cold – especially in the summer when it was needed most – the ice house was designed with several deceptively simple features.

For example, there are two layers of wood siding. One layer of wood siding runs diagonally along the side of the ice house. This layer is covered by another layer of horizontal wood siding. Together, these two layers provide strength and insulation to the walls.

The walls were three feet thick and were filled with sawdust to provide even more insulation. And this ice house had no shortage of sawdust, since it was in the middle of the Somers Lumber Company – the largest sawmill in the Flathead Valley at the time, producing about 600,000 railroad ties per year for the growing railroad.

The second-story door (not pictured - it's on the other side) may seem oddly out of place. However, it was used to load ice down into railroad freight cars, and later special “reefer” or refrigerator cars. This was dangerous work and falling and freezing were not uncommon tragedies.

Also, the two cupola atop the roof aren’t just for decoration. They are an integral part of a venting system designed to let warm air draft out and help keep the ice from melting.

While the ice house was well built and worked well, history would alter its utility.

By 1930, the introduction of electric refrigeration altered the need for natural ice. The use of the General Electric, the Frigidaire, the Kelvinator and other electric refrigerators spread during 1930 through 1960. And the ice houses across the nation soon became obsolete.

About the same time, expansion of the Great Northern Railway had run its course and a half million railroad ties were no longer needed every year.

The sawmill was shuttered in 1949. Since then, the ice house has survived...
This is a structure that was essential to living i... (show quote)


Fantastic image!!
I would not have even considered it for an Ice House mainly because of its height.
I Dad was raised on the Michigan Peninsula in the mid 1900s The farm he was raised on had two Ice housed and both were dugouts in the side of a hill and insulated with sawdust from their sawmill.

Reply
Jan 15, 2022 08:49:27   #
jaymatt Loc: Alexandria, Indiana
 
That’s a beauty, Tommy, and I also enjoyed your narrative.

We had a somewhat similar building here on the farm that my great-grandfather built--we called it the warm house. It had the same double walls filled with sawdust, as was the area above the roof. The bottom was set about three feet into the ground. Its function was to keep the the pump, the cows’ milk and canned goods, etc. from freezing in the winter and to keep them cool in the summer. It was always cool in there in the summer and never froze in the winter. Unfortunately, it finally succumbed to termites. I rebuilt it with extra-thick walls and insulation. It’s close, but it isn’t the same.

There was an ice house in Alexandria, IN, that still sold block ice until in the ‘60s. It was just around the corner from the high school and had the coldest pop in town.

Pardon my digressing, but your photo brought back fine memories.

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Jan 15, 2022 08:52:44   #
Gitchigumi Loc: NC
 
Thanks! A blast from the past, for sure.👍👍

Reply
Jan 15, 2022 09:36:57   #
yssirk123 Loc: New Jersey
 
Very interesting - thanks for sharing!

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