History of Ice Delivery
What we do at Emergency Ice is far from a new industry. Previously known as the ‘frozen water trade,’ ice delivery was born out of the 19th century in the frozen East Coast and icy countries like Norway. Cut from the surface of frozen ponds and streams, ice was moved and stored in ice houses and later sent to global final destinations by ship and railroad. Born from this industry were huge networks of ice wagons that distributed the product to commercial and domestic customers, which revolutionized U.S. food industries (meat, fruits and vegetables), and spurred growth in the fishing industries.
Founded in 1806 by Frederic Tudor, the ice trade began when Tudor first built an ice house to store ice he would later ship to Martinique, an island in the Caribbean. With the goal of selling ice to Europeans with enough wealth to spread out over the Western hemisphere, Tudor joined up with other merchants and gained help in harvesting and shipping ice all over New England and beyond. By the 1840s, Tudor’s product had reached India, England, South America, Australia and China.
Domestically, business was booming and the industry began focusing more on the affairs on home soil. As cities filled with people looking for work, the ice trade supplied the East coast heavily, with New York and Philadelphia solidifying themselves as two of the biggest consumers. To feed the demand, ice would be harvested from the frozen Hudson River and parts of Maine.
Carving U.S. Industry
Ice had a big hand in helping the meat packing industry grow. Because the railroad industry began using ice in their refrigerator cars, Cincinnati and Chicago’s meat industry was now able to slaughter and dress meat locally and send fresh meat east. The railroad’s chilled refrigerator cars made shipping vegetables, fruits and meat possible, when before, those foods could only be produced and consumed locally.
Additionally, the fishing industry was able to grow by being able to preserve catches in ice so they wouldn’t spoil while fishermen sought out even bigger catches on longer voyages. Previously restricted to colder months in winter, even American breweries were able to capitalize off of the ice industry and stay operational all year.
By the 1870s, however, the United States’ exports of ice had begun their decline as Norway picked up the slack, shipping ice to England and Germany. By the end of the 19th century, the United States’ ice industry had employed more than 90,000 people, grossed more than $28 million (that’s more than half a billion dollars in today’s dollars!) from a network of ice houses that each stored nearly 250,000 tons of ice.
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us at (214) 631-3535.
Ice Plants by Way of Norway
When Norway took up the reins, they produced and exported more than a million tons of ice a year, thanks to a mostly frozen landscape of artificial lakes. Competition sprouted in the 1870s with the advent of plant ice and mechanically chilled ice houses. Expensive and unreliable at first, artificially produced plant ice revolutionized the ice industry by the First World War in 1914, and the United States was producing more ice in plants than harvesting natural ice from the East Coast.
Today, ice is still harvested for certain festivals and carvings, but the industrial network that
revolutionized so many other industries is all but gone. Emergency Ice still sees the value in being one of the few purveyors of bagged ice, shot and ice blocks, and continues to supply the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and surrounding areas with ice, and so do our customers. Keeping your drinks cold, your foods chilled, and your ice-chomping habits satisfied is what gets us up in the mornings, and we’re more than happy to do it.