Timeline: 1865 – Networking of Railroads Helped Grow The Industry to The West

A special rail car and loading system using ice were designed and built to transport perishable products. With the improved network of railroads and a chain of “icing stations” every 400 miles across the US, produce from California, beef from Chicago and beer from Milwaukee, as well as other perishable products, are now able to be distributed across the country.

  • The ice industry revolutionized the way food was preserved and transported. Prior to the 19th century, food preservation depended on curing or smoking. Ice allowed foods to be freshly frozen or cooled instantly.
  • Two things occurred in the 1860’s that had an impact on exported ice, 1st was the Indian Rebellion in 1857. Shortly thereafter, ice export to India declined. 2nd was the British Royal Navy formed the International Ice Company and began producing artificial ice on a large scale.
  • In 1861, the American Civil War disrupted the sale of ice from the northern states to the Southern states creating an ice famine. Ice was the first product withheld from the Southern States by the Northern States during the Civil War.
  • Natural ice was used to move Western American products to the East by railroads using a chain of icing stations. Trains had to stop every 400 miles to be re-iced at large icing stations.
  • American Companies (Amour & Swift, Bell Brothers) began to ship chilled beef throughout the United States using ice refrigerated Railroad Box Cars stopping by a network of icing stations for reloading of ice.

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