Nineteenth Century Ice Cutting, Part 1 (of 3): Ice cutting was a boom business in the mid 1800s. Tons of ice were harvested each winter in the Northeast portion of the United States, housed near rivers and railway spurs, and shipped near and far for use in the remaining seasons of the year. An image from August 1884 Harper’s Weekly, a patent from 1841, a spot of Victorian humor, and newspaper clippings shed light on the significant ice trade.
While bath tubs of various styles were available in cities by the mid-nineteenth century, the American Old West didn’t have easy access to delivery of such finery until after the Transcontinental Railway in 1869 (followed by additional railroads bringing delivery nearer to home) eliminated freight by horse-drawn wagon. Historic images of Montgomery Ward & Co. catalogs and Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogs illustrate available options–some of which are simply too ingenious to miss! Who knew a kitchen sink so easily doubled as a bath tub? Or that a five-and-a-half-foot bathtub could fold up? Price comparisons (then to now) show why it took a good long while for most folks to afford more than a public bath (next post) or a bowl and pitcher to make do.