Timeline: 1900-1910 – Decline of the Natural Ice Trade

Warm winters often prevented a successful ice harvest, thus creating ice famines. Americans now dependent on a regular supply were scrambling for ice. Due to the unpredictability of natural ice, a decreasing clean water supply and the growing impatience of industrialists, the production of artificial ice began to grow.

  • By 1914, 26 million tons of artificial ice was being produced compared to 24 million tons of naturally harvested ice. There was a similar trend around the world making it increasingly unprofitable to export ice from the United States.
  • Concerns grew over the sanitary safety of natural ice from polluted lakes and rivers.

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