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Greetings to all,

This blog is based on my research paper and the following data is based on some of my early finding. I initially set out to write on Dr. John Gorrie (1803 – June 29, 1855) (Figure 1.) of Apalachicola Florida, who was the first, to create artificial ice in 1847. He had two patents awarded in 1851 for his ice making apparatus. (Figure 2.) Figure 3 is a drawing from Dr. Gorrie’s Patent application.

Figure 1. Dr. John Gorrie. Photo Credit Kevin Bair

Figure 2. Copy of Dr. Gorrie’s Ice Machine. Photo Credit: Kevin Bair

Figure 3. Drawing of Dr. Gorrie’s ice machine from his patent application.

This quest to find out more on Dr. Gorrie and his machine led me down a road to the Ice Trade. This journey revealed to me the transition ce took from the multimillion-dollar natural ice industry, based on cutting and shipping ice blocks from New England and other Northern States, to that of the newfangled artificial, man made ice industry. The beauty of man-made ice is it is not seasonal, nor should the supply run out or low in the Summer months.

My research found interesting data on both the natural and the artificial ice trade. It also has demonstrated, via primary newspapers, there was an ice monopoly which was slowly created by the natural ice suppliers who, it seems, also push to stifle inventors like Dr. Gorrie and to provide disinformation about artificial ice. Dr. Gorrie specialized in treating malaria and yellow fever. He believed cooling his patient’s rooms would lower their temperatures, ease their suffering, and speed their recovery. (Figure 4.) He was not out to change the world or capture the ice market.

Figure 4. Dr. Gorrie initial concept of room cooling. Photo Credit: Kevin Bair

 

The natural ice trade was started in 1806, by Ferdric Tudor (September 4, 1783 – February 6, 1864). (Figure 5.)

Figure 5. Fredric Tudor. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

At the age of 23, Tudor bought a brig (ship) and started to cut ice out of his father’s pond in Saugus, Massachusetts and ship it to Martinique. This was the birth of the ice trade business. He shipped to many places in and outside of the U.S., such as, England, India, South America, China, and Australia.

Here is a partial list of his ice shipments over years:

1805 he shipped 130 tons.

1816 (after the war of 1812) shipped 1200 tons.

1826 10,000 tons

1836 12,000 tons

1846 65,000 tons

1856 146,000 tons. [1]

Mr. Tudor had to create an entire industry from scratch, he had to decide what kind of boats to be used or build, how to preserve the ice for long voyages, build ice houses to store the ice, tools and cranes to harvest, lift, and transport the ice to and from ships. The money to create this infrastructure for everywhere ice was harvested and sold must have been enormous. As an example of the desire for ice, something we take for granted, in 1820, New Orleans used 300 tons of ice, in 1851, the city used 30,000 tons[2] In 1847, the Boston area used more than 50,000 tons, which was shipped in 258 boats. Shipments to foreign ports consisted of 95 boats and more than 20,000 tons. Shipping ice had an average of $2.00 per ton in 1847. [3]

In 1847, Havana, ice sold for 6 ¼ cents per pound with 1112 tons consumed, New Orleans, 3 cents per pound, 28,000 tons, Boston used 27,000 tons, with an average price of 13. 5 cents per hundred pounds. It cost the owners $54,764 dollars to harvest and ship the ice and it grossed $72,200, with a profit of $18,135. [4] Figure 6, is of Tudor Wharves in Charlestown, Massachusetts.

Figure 6. Tudor Wharves in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Photo Credit: Marc W. Herold

The natural ice shipping business is seasonal and can only be feasible in cold winters. A good winter will have 20 days of ice cutting. Daily labor for the worker is $650.00 and $250.00 for the horses. Typically, it is $1.00 per day for horses and men. [5] Data indicates by the industries peak, 28 million had been invested with 90,000 people working in the ice industry. [6] Bahman Zohuri states, “The ice trade revolutionized the U.S. meat, vegetable, and fruit industries, enabled significant growth in the fishing industry, and encouraged the introduction of a range of new drinks and foods.”[7]

Where does Dr. Gorrie come into all of this? His part is small but important. It was his concept of making artificial ice that took off after the Civil War. Gorrie died in 1855, at 52, and before he could see the fruits of his labor. Gorrie publicly wrote how his machine worked in the newspapers, which in turned, ignited many to ponder making artificial ice. The New York Tribune 1853, reports on Gorrie’s machine, stating, in theory, “ There can be little reason to doubt that the production of ice mechanically may be made the means not only of cheapening and diffusing this luxury in central cities and towns of our southern States and the tropics, but also opening an extremely lucrative…industry.”[8] The man who built off of Gorrie’s design was a Frenchman named Ferdinand Carré who in 1848 decided to use aqua ammonia which was superior to Gorrie’s method which used saltwater brine. By 1867 Carré’s machine could produce six tons of ice daily. Together these men and their dreams changed our world.

Figure 7. Ferdinand Carré. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Columbus Georgia was the location for The Columbus Georgia Iron Works who in 1872, built the first commercial ice machine for the Columbus Ice Manufacturing. Soon another machine went to Montgomery, Alabama.[9] It was Captain Samuel J. White who spearheaded and perfected the ice machines used in the south. He was from Apalachicola and knew of Dr. Gorrie and his invention. The Gorrie Ice Company (named in his honor, not related) of Savannah Georgia, opened in 1885, employed 20 men, use machines with compressed ammonia, and could produce 26,000 to 30,000 pounds of ice a day – which is about 15 tons. They also remarked there were similar machines spread between Wilmington N. Carolina and El Paso, Tx.[10] By 1892, there were machines in Pensacola, St. Augustine, New Orleans, etc. Prices were around .60 cents per 100 pounds, .35 cents for 25 pounds and you could buy 1 ton for $7.00.[11] By 1928 there were roughly twenty-eight hundred ice factories in the United States.[12]

You can understand why men like Fredrick Tutor may have feared men like Dr. Gorrie and his machine. Once the technology was perfected and ice could be produced anywhere, was inexpensive, and was available year-round, the natural ice business could no longer be sustainable.

I hope you enjoyed my brief comparison between the natural ice business and artificial ice business,

Kev

Bibliography

Journal, The Freeman’s . The Ice Trade of the United States 1849. The Freeman’s Journal (Dublin, Dublin, Ireland) , 01 03 ,1849, 4.

Advertiser, The Montgomery . A New Refrigeration. The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama), 12 10 , 192, 4.

Courier, The Charleston Daily . Corrersondence of the Courier. The Charleston Daily Courier, 09 12, 1860, 2.

Holbrook, F. The Ice Trade. The Brattleboro Eagle,, 04 12, 1852, 1.

Refrigeration, Ice and, Ice and refrigeration. v. 2. No. 1_6 . Chicago, New York: H. S. Rich & Co. , Jan-June 1892.

Telegraph, The Macon . Articical Ice. The Macon Telegraph (Macon, Georgia), 12, 31, 1885, 3.

Tribune, New-York. Dr. Gorries Apparatus For Making Ice. New-York Tribune,10, 13, 1854, 7.

Zohuri, Bahman. Physics of Cryogenics: An Ultralow Temperature Phenomenon. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 2018, 391.

Figures:

Figure 1. Dr. John Gorrie. Photo Credit Kevin Bair 1

Figure 2. Copy of Dr. Gorrie’s Ice Machine. Photo Credit: Kevin Bair 1

Figure 3. Drawing of Dr. Gorrie’s ice machine from his patent application. 2

Figure 4. Dr. Gorrie initial concept of room cooling. Photo Credit: Kevin Bair 3

Figure 5. Fredric Tudor. Photo Credit: Wikipedia 3

Figure 6. Tudor Wharves in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Photo Credit: Marc W. Herold 4

Figure 7. Ferdinand Carré. Photo Credit: Wikipedia 5

Figures: 1- 4 taken at by Kevin Bair at The John Gorrie Museum in Apalachicola Florida.

Figure 5: Frederic Tudor. 04 24, 2020.

Figure 6: Herold, Marc W. Ice in the Tropics: the Export of ‘Crystal Blocks of Yankee Coldness’ to India and Brazil, Revista Espaco Academico, No. 142, 2012: 162-177.

Figure 7: Wikipedia. Ferdinand Carré. 01 11, 2020.

Footnotes :

  1. The Charleston Daily Courier. Correspondence of the Courier. (The Charleston Daily Courier,1860), 2.
  2. F. Holbrook, The Ice Trade, (The Brattleboro Eagle, 04 12, 1852), 1.
  3. The Freeman’s Journal, The Ice Trade of the United States 1849. (The Freeman’s Journal,1849) 4.
  4. The Freeman’s Journal, The Ice Trade of the United States 1849. (The Freeman’s Journal,1849) 4.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Bahman Zohuri, Physics of Cryogenics: An Ultralow Temperature Phenomenon. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 2018), 391
  7. Ibid. 390
  8. New-York Tribune, Dr. Gorrie’s Apparatus For Making Ice. (New-York Tribune, 1854), 7
  9. The Montgomery Advertiser, A New Refrigeration. (The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama), 1925),4.
  10. The Macon Telegraph, Artificial Ice, (The Macon Telegraph (Macon, Georgia), 1885), 3.
  11. Ice and Refrigeration, (Ice and refrigeration. v. 2. No. 1-6. Chicago, New York: H. S. Rich & Co, 1892) 260.
  12. The Montgomery Advertiser, A New Refrigeration. (The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama), 1925),4