2017 Research in the Capitol

Presentation Type

Open Access Poster Presentation

Keywords

Ice industry--Iowa--History;

Abstract

On January 30, 1908, ice harvester Frank Osgood, who was hard at work on the Cedar River during a viciously cold day taking ice blocks cut from the river then up the elevator to the ice house, “froze his eye lids.” Common tasks in the natural ice industry required workers to be out in the coldest winter conditions to produce blocks of frozen water for sale to those who kept food fresh year-round. Hard physical labor permeates the natural ice industry’s fascinating history and is often overlooked, but the story of Osgood and those like him offers insight into the lives of thousands of Iowans, from the mid-1800s and the state’s founding through the era of industrialization to the Great Depression, who worked in these conditions. It is also a story of human technological innovation to make use of natural resources at hand and resilience to environmental adversity.

Start Date

28-3-2017 11:30 AM

End Date

28-3-2017 1:30 PM

Event Host

University Honors Programs, Iowa Regent Universities

Faculty Advisor

Leisl Carr-Childers

Department

Department of History

File Format

application/pdf

COinS
 
Mar 28th, 11:30 AM Mar 28th, 1:30 PM

“Long Cold Days”: The Natural Ice Industry, 1880 to 1940

On January 30, 1908, ice harvester Frank Osgood, who was hard at work on the Cedar River during a viciously cold day taking ice blocks cut from the river then up the elevator to the ice house, “froze his eye lids.” Common tasks in the natural ice industry required workers to be out in the coldest winter conditions to produce blocks of frozen water for sale to those who kept food fresh year-round. Hard physical labor permeates the natural ice industry’s fascinating history and is often overlooked, but the story of Osgood and those like him offers insight into the lives of thousands of Iowans, from the mid-1800s and the state’s founding through the era of industrialization to the Great Depression, who worked in these conditions. It is also a story of human technological innovation to make use of natural resources at hand and resilience to environmental adversity.