Nebraska Historical Marker: Crystal Lake

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Nebraska Historical Marker: Crystal Lake

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Location

10283-10799 S Crystal Lake Ave, Ayr, Adams County, Nebraska

View this marker's location 40.456191, -98.4412

View a map of all Nebraska historical markers, Browse Historical Marker Map

Marker Text

In 1893 the Crystal Ice Company dammed a portion of the Little Blue River 1 1/4 miles north of Ayr, creating "Crystal Lake" for harvesting and selling ice. A huge storage and loading facility was built on the nearby Republican Valley branch of the Burlington Railroad. Horse-drawn scoring knives and long, back breaking ice saws, later replaced by power saws, cut the 16" thick ice into 9'2" squares, which were floated down a channel to be cut into twenty-five, 22" x 22" cakes. Ten thousand tons per season was the capacity. A large ice house was filled for the Hastings trade, and hundreds of carloads were sold to the railroad. This winter ice harvest provided a thirty-day income for as many as fifty workers. In the 1920s mechanical refrigeration ended the ice business and Crystal Lake became a private recreation area for picnics, dancing, swimming, boating, fishing, and skating. In 1937 the 63-acre site was purchased by the state and improved by the WPA. Silt eventually filled the lake, and in 1976 a $180,818 renovation of the lake and park was a project of the Ayr Bicentennial Committee. Crystal Lake State Recreation Area is part of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission system.

Further Information

Bibliography

Marker program

See Nebraska Historical Marker Program for more information.