Jim’s History Corner – Lake Ice
Over 100 years ago, before electricity and refrigeration, people used ice boxes with blocks of ice to keep many of their foods cool and safe. Many residents of Monticello and the surrounding area needed a fresh and available supply of ice to provide their needs.
They were happy to have this supply within a horse and wagon ride away – the Bertram Chain of Lakes. Actually, the lake most used was Long Lake. Under the south end of the lake there is a large spring that provided clean, fresh water to the lake and for this reason the ice during the winter was clear and fresh, also.
The west end of the lake currently has a boat landing which was the original entry point for the men who would do the cutting of the ice. The cutting itself wa
s quite unique – holes were drilled by an auger to make room for the saws which then cut the ice into chunks.
After being cut, the blocks were hauled by wagon to the ice house which was located near the beach on Bertram and east of the pump.
The ice was cut for many years from Long Lake and was a very renewable supply for the residents of the area. Packed in straw it could last through the summer.
I should also mention that over a hundred years ago there were very few trees and underbrush between the boat landing on Long Lake and the beach on Bertram. It was mostly pastureland. This made it a lot easier to haul the ice from Long Lake to the ice house by the Bertram beach.