Ice Harvesting Industry History in Waukesha County, Wisconsin

By
Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker

When I was younger and would hang out with my grandmother driving her nuts she would often suggest I go mow the yard, pull weeds, or do some physical work so I could appreciate a good days work. Often I would look in her refrigerator for food and comment that her ice box should be colder. Of which she would Wisconsin ice box waukesha county real estate reply "You don't know how good you have it Tombo, I remember always Ice harvesting waukesha county homes for salescraping and cleaning the ice chest." I would then make some crack about not keeping tabs on the pioneers and from there I was out doing physical hard work. Little did I know the amazing history that was all around me on the Waukesha County lakes.

Before refrigerators most people could have used an ice chest which consisted of a holding compartment, a storage area under the holding compartment that held the ice and it's associated evaporating pans. The ice would be harvested on local Waukesha County lakes in Waukesha County, packed in saw dust, and kept until it was delivered by the ice man. Yes, there really was such a man as the ice man from the ice company. Waukesha Ice harvesting waukesha county homes for saleCounty lakes provided communities around the state with a natural seasonal business that evolved into a large scale industry, ice waukesha county homes for sale, homes for sale in waukesha county harvesting. Small, local ice harvesting businesses existed in Wisconsin as early as the 1850s, but did not become a major industry until the 1870s and 1880s with the increasing demands of brewing and meat packing.

During the 1880s, Milwaukee's breweries used more 335,000 tons of ice per year.  Meat packing also required large amounts of ice for the storage and shipment of waukesha county homes for sale, homes for sale in waukesha county meats.  Wisconsin was seen as a dependable source of high quality ice, particularly as rapid industrial expansion elsewhere led to increasingly polluted waterways. Pewaukee Lake in Waukesha County was a  waukesha county homes for sale, homes for sale in waukesha countymajor ice harvesting site, and was used by Best Brewery, followed by Armour, Cudahy, and the Wisconsin Lakes Ice and Cartage Company. Lakes throughout southern Wisconsin were utilized for ice as long as they had direct access to rail lines. Refrigeration technology began to replace natural ice harvesting in the 1910s and by the end of WWI, large ice harvesting firms had left Wisconsin.

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Rainmaker
3,076,441
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Hey Tom Braatz,no Tom Braatz in the title today?  Love the topic and old photos...have a safe day!

Sep 07, 2009 01:55 AM #13
Rainmaker
1,907,258
Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!

Kristin

I thought I would give that name thing a break today? Can you imagine a guy like me that eats like a bird looking in people's refrigerator?

Sep 07, 2009 02:54 AM #14
Rainmaker
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Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!

Carole

There are a lot more of those ice boxes around than I thought.

Sep 07, 2009 02:55 AM #15
Rainmaker
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Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!

Leesa,

I would have to think that all that ice hauling was pretty hard work. I too am fascinated with all those old photos.

Sep 07, 2009 02:56 AM #16
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Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Tom, great history here!  There is a wonderful old coop building here that still has the old ice chests in some of the kitchens.   And we sometimes see them in some of the older homes.  Makes having a frost free fridge with ice maker seem, well, decadent!

Sep 07, 2009 03:07 AM #17
Rainmaker
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Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!

Pat

I am beginning to think that some of those old ice chests worked pretty good; I totally agree with the frost free thing. Now if I could only get that frost and ice out of my frost free freezer and refrigerator.

Sep 07, 2009 03:44 AM #18
Rainer
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Pat Mullikin - KW Milwaukee
Keller Williams Milwaukee - Brookfield, WI

Tom Braatz!

What a coincidence! I was just at the Dousman-Dunkel Historic Property in my hometown of Brookfield Wisconsin and took some photos of some of the buildings. This one is the ICEHOUSE! along with the explanation posted on the door of the building. Notice the square nail heads on the door!

Historic Icehouse

Icehouse Document

Sep 07, 2009 05:42 AM #19
Ambassador
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Respect Realty LLC
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I was looking at the house last year that was a converted barn and their cabinets were the old ice chests. It was actually really really cool!

Todd Clark - www.LivingBeaverton.com

Sep 07, 2009 12:54 PM #20
Rainmaker
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Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!

Pat

That is a coincidence. Ice chests, ice houses, and the whole Industry was amazing.

Sep 07, 2009 01:22 PM #21
Rainmaker
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Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!

Todd

Those concerted barns are cool. The cabinets of ice chests? Now that is really cool and radical.

Sep 07, 2009 01:23 PM #22
Rainmaker
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Mara Hawks
First Realty Auburn - Auburn, AL
Inactive-2012 REALTOR - Homes for Sale Auburn Real Estate, AL

I love this story, Tom. I remember, too, getting huge chunks of ice from the milkman who came down our Chicago streets. And remember those oak repro ice chests that were a fad of the 80's, used for liquor cabinets? I like Todd's image of these being used as cabinets in a converted barn. Just love the creativity. Very cool! Very n-ICE!

Sep 07, 2009 04:58 PM #23
Rainmaker
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Jeff&Grace Safrin
F.C.Tucker 1st Team Real Estate - Valparaiso, IN
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Wow a blast from the past Tom - my grandparents had an ice box :)

Things were simpler yet tougher back then :)

thanks for sharing your story and these incredible photos.

Sincerely,

Grace

Sep 08, 2009 01:31 AM #24
Rainmaker
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Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!

Mara

To think that these are so prevalent yet, and that they are a collectors item thinks maybe they should make refrigerators to look like them.

Sep 08, 2009 02:34 AM #25
Rainmaker
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Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!

Grace

I run into lots of people that remember these. I suppose they were part of everyday life.

Sep 08, 2009 02:36 AM #26
Rainer
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Pat Mullikin - KW Milwaukee
Keller Williams Milwaukee - Brookfield, WI

"Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free, tis a gift to live in simple harmony..."

Old Folk Song

Sep 08, 2009 03:12 AM #27
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Jo-Anne Smith
Oakville, ON

Tombo,

I love these stories you tell about times past....my Dad has often talked about the ice chest at his Grandmother's and Aunt's and Uncle's and how his older cousins would go out on Lake Nippissing and harvest big chunks of ice....it was a simpler time.

I really believe I was born in the wrong century since there is nothing I like better than being at a remote cabin with no electricity, just oil lamps and total peace where nothing competes with the sounds of nature.

sigh

Jo

Sep 08, 2009 05:31 AM #28
Rainmaker
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Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!

Pat

"Tis is a gift to be simple, Tis a gift to be free..." I often wish I could simplify my life but I think I am way too past that. Got your message last night; will call today. It's show time in a week.

Sep 08, 2009 06:09 AM #29
Rainmaker
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Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!

Jo

You and I think alike; I think the more primitive the better at times. Can you imagine the work it took to cut all that ice and store it?

Sep 08, 2009 06:11 AM #30
Rainmaker
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James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
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Tom - Thats amazing!  I never had an idea they harvested ice like that.  

Sep 08, 2009 02:59 PM #31
Rainmaker
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Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!

James

One can only imagine how hard of work that was. When one figures out that a cubic foot of water weighs 62 pounds (salt water 64.4 pounds) and as big as they chunks were, an all day job everyday of this must have been back breaking.

Sep 09, 2009 04:39 AM #32
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