Having ice a tough task in old days before refrigeration

Farm and ranch crews had to wait until area ponds and lakes froze over before they could begin the arduous task of cutting blocks of ice from the frozen surface and transporting those blocks back to the farm or ranch in sufficient quantities to last through the year.

Farm and ranch crews had to wait until area ponds and lakes froze over before they could begin the arduous task of cutting blocks of ice from the frozen surface and transporting those blocks back to the farm or ranch in sufficient quantities to last through the year.
Farm and ranch crews had to wait until area ponds and lakes froze over before they could begin the arduous task of cutting blocks of ice from the frozen surface and transporting those blocks back to the farm or ranch in sufficient quantities to last through the year.
MEEKER I Early employees of the 101 Ranch, now the Rio Blanco Ranch, may remember the “ice house” and going out to cut blocks of ice to be used for refrigeration throughout the year—or as long as it would last.
This method was used in communities in the late 1800s and early 1900s until advancements in refrigeration technology came about.
They waited until the ice became thick enough to support the weight of the horses, men and equipment needed to cut and transport the blocks of ice.
Before the 1830s, food was preserved through salting, spicing, pickling or smoking. Meat was slaughtered primarily for single-family consumption or that day’s trade.
Products like dairy, fruits and vegetables were sold or traded at local market and the idea of shipping perishable items was almost non-existent.
Thus the idea of harvesting natural ice was born. This made a way to preserve fresh fish, dairy and produce during transport and expanded the opportunties for businesses across the country. The demand for natural ice became so great, commercial ice houses were built and ice blocks shipped nationwide via railroad.
In the last half of the 19th century, attempts were made to perfect the manufacture of ice. The Louisiana Ice Manufacturing Company had the best success was the most effective in these efforts. By 1925, factory-made ice made natural ice a thing of the past for many areas.
However, cutting ice for small communities and on local ranches was not done for commercial reasons. It was done out of necessity and for the benefit of the people.
Local men were not afforded the luxury of large crews or even the most modern saws used for the ice. They used hand saws and worked together to get the large blocks loaded onto a wagon, often one block per wagon, to take to storage.
In 1805, an American inventor named Oliver Evans designed the first refrigeration machine and the first “practical” refrigeration machine was built by Jacob Perkins in 1834. The problem with early refrigeration was the use of toxic gases like ammonia, methyl chloride and sulfur dioxide.
After several fatal accidents in the 1920s collaborative research led to the discovery of freon. Of course, time eventually exposed freon’s particular dangers.
The introduction of refrigeration changed both the convenience of food storage and the variety of products available.
However, the need for bigger and better methods also led to a potentially dangerous risk to the environment than non-refrigerated food ever posed.
The concept of natural ice has its appeal, and the effort it took to get the ice made the appreciation for the cooled items that much greater.