A harvest of a different kind

Published 2:30 pm Friday, November 16, 2018

By Linda Evenson

Photos courtesy of Freeborn County Historical Museum

Years ago, the cold weather of winter meant the ice harvest season was on. Ice was cut for daily personal and commercial use. Fountain Lake provided a good crop for the harvest. Crews would clear the snow from the ice and prepare the surface by marking off squares. The fields of ice covered many acres. The ice would be scored, cut, transported and stored. The harvest of 1913 began on the 14-inch coat of ice with three plows and about 20 teams of horses. Nearly 150 men worked the ice harvest in 1921.

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The harvest of 1916 had less demand for ice due to the relocation of the beer warehouses to another town. Typically, vast quantities of ice were harvested. Local supply houses, like the Albert Lea Ice & Fuel Co. and Gripman, Moore & Co., required large amounts of ice. The Stacy Fruit Co. warehouse, the Rock Island Railroad and other railroad cold storage houses demanded tons of ice. A 1922 newspaper article reported that “hundreds of thousands of tons” of ice were harvested for the Albert Lea Packing Co.