Friday, December 2, 2016

The Mammoth Spring Ice House, Fullersburg, Illinois. (1880-1910)

The Mammoth Spring Ice House was built in 1880 by John F. Ruchty, owner of the Mammoth Spring Ice Company, on Salt Creek at the foot of Washington Street in Fullersburg, Illinois. Now a part of Oak Brook, Illinois.
The Mammoth Spring Ice House, Fullersburg, Illinois
The Mammoth Spring Ice House building was 100 feet long, 50 feet wide and 30 feet high, with double walls 18 inches thick filled with sawdust. The ice was packed in tiers, each layer covered with wood shavings. Fifty to sixty men were required to fill the ice house. 

When the ice reached the thickness of twelve to eighteen inches in the creek, a field was marked out, cut in blocks 24 inches square and floated on rafts through channels to the water box. Then the ice was hauled up a chute by means of a jack attached to a long rope through a series of pulleys. Two teams of horses furnished the power. 

Several thousand tons of ice was stored each winter for delivery the following summer at 50¢ per one-hundred pounds. Five wagons made daily trips supplying ice to markets and homes in LaGrange, Western Springs, Hinsdale and South Elmhurst. In 1885, the increasing demands for ice resulted in construction of an additional ice house and two more wagons to serve the area.

When artificial ice (from refrigeration cooling systemsreplaced natural ice, the Ruchty Brothers sold their business in 1910 to the West Suburban Ice Company. A few timbers lining the bank of Salt Creek are all that remains of the ice house. 

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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