The Luxury Of Cold: The Natural Ice Industry In Boca, California: 1868-1927

Author(s): Leo A. Demski

Year: 2017


Before the invention of refrigeration and artificial ice, naturally harvested ice was an important seasonal commodity for food storage and heat regulation.  In 1852, Boston ice was shipped to San Francisco and sold as a luxury.  Shortly thereafter, high demand led entrepreneurs to create ice companies in the Sierra Nevada Mountains along the newly-completed transcontinental railroad.  The railroad could transport ice to customers, and utilized it to ship perishable food items over long distances in refrigerated (reefer) cars.  The town of Boca, in the eastern Sierra, dominated the Californian ice market from the late 1860s- late 1920s, thanks to its extremely cold and dry conditions, purity of water, and close proximity to the railroad.  This presentation will discuss the archaeology taking place at Boca, as well as attempting to situate the Sierra ice industry in the broader context of economic and industrial development of the late 19th-early 20th century West.

Cite this Record

The Luxury Of Cold: The Natural Ice Industry In Boca, California: 1868-1927. Leo A. Demski. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Fort Worth, TX. 2017 ( tDAR id: 435251)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


ice Industry West

Geographic Keywords
North America United States of America

Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 701