Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ice House

Hiking the Buckeye Trail in Henry County Ohio I noticed a building at the edge of the Wabash, Miami and Erie Canal. It's probably an Ice House from about the early 1900's.  This  structure is between Florida and Napoleon, Ohio across the road from a turn of the century farm house. The first commercial ice household refrigerator wasn't available
until 1913 and then you had to have

By the 1930s nearly  90 percent of the urban dwellers had electricity but only 10 percent of rural residents had access.
The Rural Electrification Act of 1936 provided federal loans for the installation of electrical distribution systems in rural areas.  The  Henry County REMC was incorporated in the spring of 1936.  
Nationally, within 2 years 1.5 million farms through 350 rural  cooperatives in 45 of the 48 states had electricity.

Before electrification, other people would have to buy their ice from commercial companies.   Jim Blount writes, "by 1811 their were 17 companies operating icehouse along the along the Miami and Erie Canal between LeSourdsville in Lemon Township and Port Union in West Chester Township north of Cincinnati".  One Cincinnati ice company owned 6 canal boats paying $30,000 in canal tolls in 1882.  Workers 
would saw ice block in canal retention ponds.  The ice was shipped by railroad, canal boat and paddle wheel boats.
 In a good winter blocks of ice stacked in an ice house could last a family ten or eleven months.  Straw and saw dust were layered between  the blocks of ice.

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Photos and Narrative submitted by Bob Morrison, Napoleon, Ohio.