faded lettering for
"Cedar Lake Ice & Fuel Co."
"Ice, Coal, Coke, Oil"
"Ice Plant No. ??"
Minneapolis, May 23, 2008CE
I was going to Hudsons Maps (next time), but the store was closed. Going to the rear entrance to ring the bell (which called someone who gave me a tour), I passed through the parking lot in the middle of the block between 25th & 26th, on the west side of Nicollet Ave. The back of this building can be seen clearly, with faded lettering. I've always wondered about the Cedar Lake Ice & Fuel Co. The location is on neither Cedar Ave. nor Lake St, and no one's used ice houses or had coal delivered for many years.
My quick net search turned up the reason for the name: The ice came from Hidden Beach, what is now a controversial nude beach on the east side of Cedar Lake in Minneapolis: "In 1867 the southeast bay of Cedar Lake was filled in to create a major train yard and in 1878 a large scale ice cutting operation known as Cedar Lake Ice Company was founded on the lake’s north eastern shore, which shipped ice to places as far away as St. Louis."
The company itself was in operation at least through the Depression, and you can buy Cedar Lake Ice & Fuel Co. Ice Coupon Booklet 1931 from various places. I don't know when this location was operant, and the operation was large scale.
I found a number of references another of its buildings involved in "the disasterous fire of August 13, 1893 which started in the stables of the Cedar Lake Ice Company and quickly spread" to Nicollet Island. The fire was such a big deal that the news made the New York Times (free pdf of the article if you're logged in).
Article on The Minneapolis Conflagration of 1893: " [I]t remains the largest conflagration the MFD ever faced. Curiously, it is not well remembered..." Just as well that an ice house is not best remembered for helping to start a fire, though I wish there were more on the company available online.
If I read this press release properly, Cedar Lake Industries is still around (or was in 2001) and is now owned by a Japanese company.
The odd connection is that my movie was shot at Hidden Beach. The first scene of "Little City In Space", the documentary of Fresh Air Radio from 1983 that I co-wrote and starred in. More on this later, perhaps.
The house I grew up in was built in 1877 and had a coal chute. I don't know what, if anything, they did for refrigeration, but presumably they had ice delivered, like the milk. I barely remember milk deliveries...
Edited per comments The building is now Icehouse: Minnesota's Coolest Sound Stage.