the days before mechanical refrigeration, natural ice was
cut from the Cedar River and stored year-round in this unusual
building. Hugh Smith, owner of the Cedar Falls Ice and Fuel
Company, replacing an earlier wooden structure that burned
down, built it in 1921.
The Ice House
is 100 feet in diameter, with hollow tile walls 30 feet
high, and it could hold 6,000 - 8,000 tons of natural ice.
Ice was stored here until 1934, when the Cedar Falls Ice
and Fuel Company went out of business. Ownership then passed
to the Cedar Falls Trust and Savings Bank.
was used as a livestock sales pavilion and ice skating rink
until 1938, when members of the Cedar Falls Boat Club purchased
it. Title was then transferred to the city, which leased
the building to the Club for $1 per year.
This lease was
terminated in 1975, when the city declared the building's
roof to be unsafe. The Ice House faced demolition until
a community effort raised more than $60,000 in federal and
private money for restoration
The Cedar Falls
Ice House is the home of the Ice House Museum, operated
by the Cedar Falls Historical Society. The museum contains
artifacts of the ice cutting industry as well as other items
related to the history of Cedar Falls. It is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places.
The Museum is
open May 1 through October 31 on Wednesdays, Saturdays and
Sundays from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more
information or to arrange a tour, call (319) 266-5149.