Gauss Ice House / Ice Harvesting
Gauss Ice House
In 1883, J. Fred Gauss (1838 - 1902) bought an ice house 500 feet east of here. He harvested ice blocks from the Kalamazoo River's mill pond, using sleds and horses to move them. In 1894, he added a steam-powered elevator to move the blocks into the ice house. Fire destroyed the building in 1903. Locals built a straw-packed frame over the ice to save it. That year Fred's son John built a new ice house. The Gauss family owned the business for more than forty years.
Prior to artificial refrigeration, people preserved food using natural ice from frozen ponds and lakes. Workers scored and cut blocks of ice, then stored them in ice houses. Sawdust, hay or straw was packed between blocks and in the walls to keep the ice cold. Upon delivery to homes and businesses, the blocks were stored in ice boxes. Ice harvesting declined as electric refrigerators became common household appliances in the 1930s.