Now and Then

Now and Then: Part II – Fremont County Natural and Artificial Ice 1897 and Self-Guided Tour Map

By Loretta (Stevens) Bailey

Now:  This map will show the places that you can walk or drive to and visit locations where ice houses & cold storages structures once stood. It also shows where natural ice was harvested and then transported by railroad box cars and where the ice plants that made artificial ice were located and the train routes taken to transport the ice.

This map shows various locations associated with the ice industry in Royal Gorge Region. Poteet Ice Company had a Florence location at 311 West Main Street according to the 1927/28 City Directory.

Then: Compiled are newspapers reports, from the Florence Refiner, from March 12, 1897 to July 9, 1897. Technology advanced from natural ice houses to an artificial ice plant, erected in 1897 south of the Denver & Rio Grande Depot (now the Florence Senior Citizen Center on 100 Railroad) was the Florence Crystal Ice Plant.

Florence Refiner, Friday March 12, 1897

An Artificial Ice Plant is to be Erected by Denver Parties

Accompanying Secretary S.F. Rathvon, who was down from Denver yesterday, was Mr. Eichelberger, also of Denver, who after looking the situation over thoroughly, arranged with the United Oil Co. for a site for an artificial ice plant with a cold storage attachment.  The works will have a daily out of thirty tons and located south of D.&R.G. depot.

Work will be started upon the enterprise in a few days and it will be in operation in time to manufacture ice for next summer’s use.

Florence Refiner, April 5, 1897

Florence Crystal Ice Company

Ground having been purchased from the United Oil Co., machinery is now en route from Reading, Pa., boiler and sundry supplies purchased from the Star Boiler works of this city, Crystal Ice Plant is an assured fact.  The company’s representatives will be here in a few days to begin work on the plant which will cost about $10,000.

Ice made by this process is absolutely pure as the water used comes from the stream, is condensed, skimmed, reboiled and filtered.  When frozen it makes solid clear ice, it is much denser and will consequently last much longer than natural ice.  Its advantages from a sanitary standpoint are very apparent.  Natural ice, as all know, is frequently cut from streams and pools of foul or stagnant water thus contaminating it with disease germs and impurities, its use greatly endangers the health of those using it.

The Refiner welcomes this new industry.

Florence Refiner, Friday April 23, 1897

The Crystal Ice Company

The Florence Crystal Ice Co. is getting things under way with its plant as fast as the arrival of machinery will permit.  A 100-horse power boiler is being bricked up, and the interior of the building formerly used by the Florence Machine works will contain the ice plant.

Mr. Eichelberger informs the Refiner that he expects to be delivering ice by the middle of May.  For the accommodation of those who may [wish] to use it he will deliver distilled water in any quantity.

The Refiner welcomes this new industry to our city, as pure ice and pure water for domestic use sickness will be very materially lessened.

Technology made another advancement and the Florence Refiner made an announcement as follows:

Florence Refiner, April 28, 1899

The Telephone Company has been cleaning house this week.  The company now occupies a suite of rooms in the McCandless Block and both have been repapered and painted and floors freshly linoleumed. The Florence hello office will compare favorably with that of many larger places.  The company recently added about forty new members to its list of customers.

The Crystal Ice Company was listed as number 14.

Florence Refiner, May 28, 1897

The Florence Crystal Ice Plant

The machinery of the Florence Crystal Ice Co. is almost all in place and before this time next week they will be turning out first-class ice to the citizens of Florence.

Yesterday the United Oil Co. connected the boiler with their tar line and to-day the machinery will be started and thoroughly tested, and a trial run made on hydrant water to test the freezers.

The plant has a ten ton condenser and a thirty ton tank, so that the ice will have three days freezing, taking out one third of the ice each day.  The still is of twenty-five tons capacity so with little work in enlarging the condenser the plant can be made a twenty-five or thirty ton plant.

Florence Refiner, June 8, 1897

The Crystal Ice Co.turned out the first production of their plant on Thursday last, and now have delivery [horse-pulled] wagons in the towns of Victor, Cripple Creek, Canon City and Florence.

Florence Refiner, July 9, 1897

The Florence Crystal Ice Company is shipping three [box]cars of ice to Cripple Creek which uses up about all the surplus not taken by Florence and the adjacent towns.

Florence Refiner articles supplied by staff at the Florence Pioneer Museum on 100 East Front Street.

Below are images of the three museums marked on the map above.

Municipal Building (Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center), 612 Royal Gorge Boulevard, 1935. Object ID: 1997.108.009; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center
Women’s Prison (currently the Museum of Colorado Prisons), June 25, 1935. Object ID: 2013.011.816; Copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center
A drawing of the Florence Pioneer Museum (originally a parlor house and formerly the Eagles Lodge) at 100 E. Front Street done by Cara Fisher. The stone for the building was quarried from south of Florence. The upstairs was used at one time by ladies of the night and popular with the miners and other men who lived in the area. Philip Griffith constructed the building in 1894.[1]
(Object ID: 2009.070.072; copyright Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center)


[1] Elinor M. McGinn and Cara Fisher. If Walls Could Speak, copyright Fremont – Custer Historical Society, Inc. (Westcliffe: Crestone Graphics, 1984), 32.

Works Cited

McGinn, Elinor M. and Cara Fisher. If Walls Could Speak, copyright of Fremont – Custer Historical Society, Inc. Westcliffe: Crestone Graphics, 1984.  


The next Now and Then blog will be titled “Recreational Ice & Snow: 1870-1900”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *