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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spring Houses and Refrigeration

Before the invention of the refrigerator, icehouses were used to provide cool storage for most of the year. Placed near freshwater lakes or packed with snow and ice during the winter, they were once very common.

It was a business to cut ice blocks from frozen lakes in the winter and store them in ice houses. The ice house would have thick walls for good insulation. The ice would be packed together with hay or sawdust to insulate.

Ice blocks would be hauled to cities and towns and people would buy smaller ice blocks to put in their ice boxes (a wooden insulated "cabinet"). The block of ice would be placed in the upper portion of the ice box and food would be in the lower portion. The ice man would come around just like the milk man did and would use ice tongs to carry the blocks of ice into your kitchen and place it in your ice box for you.

You could use an ice pick to chip off pieces of ice for your iced tea.

Here is a built-in icebox.

The first type of electrical refrigerator had the motors on top like this one.

If you lived in the rural areas then you usually had a spring house, or springhouse, which was a small building used for refrigeration. It was usually a one-room building constructed over the source of a spring. The water of the spring maintained a constant cool temperature inside the spring house throughout the year. In settings where no natural spring is available, another source of natural running water, such as a small creek would be used. Many diverted a portion of a larger creek, to a spring house. The main use of a spring house is for the long-term storage of food that would otherwise spoil, such as meat, fruit or dairy products.

Refrigerators came into public knowledge in 1915 when General Electric and Frigidaire developed the first one. But they didn't really take off until the 1930's when they became more available and more affordable due to the use of freon. They went into mass production after WWII.

I got online and found some photos of spring houses.

And here is how they were used.

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