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Mountain Ice Company at Landing NJ on Lake Hopatcong

Text by M. Balston, Website Editor                    (if your screen is small, you may need to scroll side to side to see the full image)

Before the invention of the electric refrigerator, the only way to keep perishable food fresh at home was the Icebox. This was a literal box, smaller than today's refrigerators, usually of sturdy wooden construction with insulation between an inner and outer wall. One compartment held a block of ice, the other compartment was for food. Over several days the ice would melt and need to be replaced. This kept the local ice delivery people in business, and they kept the large ice companies in business.
Landing New Jersey had one of the largest ice operations in the Northeast, harvesting ice that formed on Lake Hopatcong in winter, storing it in a mammoth insulated warehouse and shipping it by rail. This page tells the story of the Mountain Ice Company which operated from approx 1880 to 1935, and whose
main "Ice House" was located off Mount Arlington Road, in the Silver Springs section of Landing near today's Nixon School.


The Mountain Ice Company, circa 1895. This huge operation employed large numbers who cut ice blocks on the Lake in the winter, storing them in a mammoth wooden insulated storage building, and shipping the ice out by rail to fill the iceboxes of city dwellers  in warm weather. The Ice house was located off Mount Arlington Road, in the Silver Springs section of Landing near today's Nixon School and was owned by Theodore King. The RR tracks were a spur off the Lackawanna Line at Landing and serviced the Ice House as well as the Atlas Powder (Explosives) Co.

On July 20, 1912, the huge wooden ice storage building of the Mountain Ice Co. burned to the ground in a
spectacular fire so large the flames lit up the sky all around the Lake.


The fire as photographed from across Lake Hopatcong


The aftermath. The dark areas on the ice are the ashes from the fire.


The ruins of the steam engine used to power the hoists that helped move ice blocks


Looking northwest across the scene

Within just a day or two, enterprising photographers gathered at the scene to create souvenir postcards, highly collectible at the time. These were sold to the large numbers of summer vacationers who would have been staying at the hotel's, boarding houses and camps that were very popular around the lake at that time.
Those surviving postcards have now become the main witness to the event, along with a few scant words in newspapers.

These young ladies are posing in front of the cascade of ice blocks that fell as the wooden hangar burned down. They are standing on the railroad track that was a spur from the main Delaware Lackawanna rail line a mile away.


Looking south, Lake Hopatcong at right.  The amount of water and mud coming down the hill caused the railroad ties to give way with this result.

 

Landing New Jersey historic home
The "Carey Cottage", circa 1914, with the 'new' Ice House behind it. This house is on Mt. Arlington Blvd. just about 50 yards north of today's Nixon Public School. It was originally built in the 1880's and in it's earlier years is said to have been a part-time residence for the King brothers as they supervised their business interests in Mining, Real Estate, their Retail Stores and Ice Harvesting, all in and around Landing.  King's Mountain Ice Company was at this site. This huge operation employed large numbers who cut ice blocks on the Lake in the winter, storing them in a mammoth wooden insulated storage hanger, and shipping the ice out by canal and rail to fill the iceboxes of city dwellers in warm weather. In July 1912 the wooden hanger burned to the ground in a fire so large the flames lit up the sky all around the Lake. In 1913 an even bigger storage building was built in a fireproof construction of steel and hollow ceramic tile with insulating properties. The "Carey Cottage" served as a residence for the family of the Ice House Supervisor, John Carey, his wife Mary and children and appears to have been built in 1913 with the same tile exterior as the Ice House. At the time of it's construction, the Ice House' 56 foot height made it the largest Ice House in America. It was said to be able to hold 100,00 tons of ice. It was the largest single-span construction in the USA until Radio City Music Hall was built. The "new" ice house is visible in this photo behind the house. Ramps stretched down to the lake to bring the ice up. Note the Trolley tracks in front and the wooden pole holding the overhead trolley electric line. With the growing use of refrigerators in homes, the ice house closed in 1935 and was torn down in 1939. The 'Carey' house, at 285 Mt. Arlington Blvd., still stands, just north of Nixon Elementary School. Note the view above, Bertrand Island is at upper right. The Camera must have been on a high platform to intentionally "shoot over" the tree line to be able to show the Lake.
(Photo Courtesy of the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum)
This page can only begin to cover the rich history of Landing. While this Landing history page is an independent effort, we recommend a visit to the The Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum at the State Park, open Sunday afternoons in the Spring and Fall. Admission is free, donations accepted.

If you know Landing history and can add to this page, you can e-mail the Editor at:   Editor @ LandingNewJersey.com
(just remove the spaces, an anti-spam measure)


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Most of the historical articles on the site were researched and written by your humble Editor, always noting sources at the end of the article. Increasingly, we see our work being . . . err . . . 'borrowed' without credit by other websites, by sellers of historical items on eBay, and most interestingly by Staff writers for both the Star-Ledger and Daily Record Newspapers in their various Community Profile, Community Snapshot, Day in the Life of . . . and so forth.  If you want to use material from this site, just ask nicely, and all will be well. Otherwise, I'll put "The Old-Man of the Marina" on your case, he will find you and force you to listen to hours of Hoppie the Lake Hopatcong Monster stories, all gathered from boaters who had spent too many hours on the Lake in full sun with an ice chest full of cheap wine coolers.

Landing, New Jersey is part of the Municipality of Roxbury Township. A link to the "official" website of Roxbury Township can be found on our "Links" page.