#Lookback: The Natural Ice Business in Lander

    A series where we take a #lookback at the stories and history of our community, brought to you by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

    Before mechanical refrigeration became widespread, ice was harvested in winter and put into storage to keep foods cold and fresh during the summer months.  After the arrival of the train, ice was exported out of Lander to other locations.  Ice was a thriving business in Lander and an important commodity.  Before refrigerators many homes had ice boxes, or ice chests cooled by natural ice that was delivered to the home. 

    From the December 27, 1907 Lander Clipper: J.H. Sheehan has moved his ice business from the rear of the Fremont Hotel to the pond above town where he is putting up his summer supply of ice for the hotel and bar.  

    From December 1909 Wyoming State Journal: Zeke Farlow has a crew of ten men at work filling up his big new ice house in the Trosper addition. They are handling about 100 tons a day of the finest ice ever put up in Lander.  Each cake is inspected and if not up to standards in quality it is rejected.  The ice house has a capacity of 700 tons.  Mr. Farlow will put on a wagon in the spring for the delivery of ice to his customers.  

    From Lander Eagle February 4 1911:  A.A. Farlow is taking advantage of the present cold snap to harvest his second crop of ice.  Farlow’s lake is a busy place just now and the way the big chunks of pure ice are being hustled into the ice house is a caution to mint julips.  A big force of men is at work cutting and skidding.

    From The Lander Evening Post December 30, 1922:  A. A. Farlow and Company who have been diligently cutting and putting up ice since cold weather set in, are now filling both ice houses in the city and are loading cars on their contract with Northwestern railroad.  The contract calls for about 100 cars of ice, it is understood.  The Northwestern is particularly desirous of securing Lander Ice because of its purity and superior qualities, and the ice is especially good this year.

    From Wyoming State Journal February 19, 1915, Regarding the Sunny Slope dairy: Our ice house and milk room combined has cement floors and a refrigerator built into the ice house where our products are kept cool and sweet until ready for delivery.  

    Zeke Farlow had several ice ponds as did A.L. Pogue and his father, J.C. Pogue before him. 

    In 1933, A.L. Pogue built a new ice pond close to First Street and Popo Agie Street.  It was close to the Northwestern railroad property.  The pond measured 150 by 300 feet and was from 4 to 8 feet deep.  It was filled with city water piped in from the Second Street water main.  This ice would be much purer than other “wild” ice.

    Before his new ice pond was built Pogue harvested ice from Ray Lake north of Lander and stored it in his ice house.  By 1950 ice boxes had become obsolete, and so had natural ice harvesting.  Modern homes had refrigerators.

    To cut the ice, a team of twelve men cut long strips of ice with a mechanical saw on a sled.  Two men then cut the strips into blocks with large hand saws resembling those used by lumberjacks. The blocks of ice were then floated to a ramp running into the ice house and pulled into the building by a cable powered by a truck.  It was cold, hard work. A block of ice weighed about 100 pounds. Then the ice was cut into blocks that were either 16 or 24 inches thick. The crew spent the next two days packing sawdust around the ice to insulate it through the summer.  One cutting would fill the ice house.

    “The use of natural ice is just about a thing of the past,” A.L. Pogue, the owner of the ice house, said in 1950. “I still contend that natural ice is the best refrigerant but mechanical ice boxes are much more convenient. Last year I finally got one myself.”

    The last natural ice was cut from Pogue’s ice ponds on December 13, 1951. The Pogues had cut hundreds of tons of ice each winter, but times and technology changed, and like stagecoaches, horse drawn buggies and the pony express, ice cutting became a business of the past.

    Next up for the Fremont County Museum

    March 27, 6pm at the Dubois Museum, “Bruce Blevins: Mapping Yellowstone” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    April 13, 10-4pm at the Riverton Museum, “Riverton Museum Open House”

    April 20, 9-2pm “Pioneer Museum Garden Expo-Historic Plant Booth” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    April 25, 7pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Lander in 1924” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    April 27, 1-3pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Sheep Shearing Day” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    Call the Dubois Museum 1-307-455-2284, the Pioneer Museum 1-307-332-3339 or the Riverton Museum 1-307-856-2665 for detail regarding their programs.

    The Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation has been created to specifically benefit The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum.  The WRCCF will help deliver the long term financial support our museums need to flourish.  In the current economic environment, the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector to continue to provide the quality programs, collections management, exhibits and services that have become their hallmark over the last four years.  Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation at PO Box 1863 Lander, WY 82520 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.  

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