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Then and Now: Mountain Ice House

Nixon School and its surrounding land (and residences) share a connection to a now-obselete trade that was once a major part of Lake Hopatcong’s commerce.

Then: From the mid-1800s until the 1930s, ice harvesting was a huge industry at Lake Hopatcong. In this era before electric refrigeration, ice was the main means of preserving food.  At its peak in the early years of the 20th century, Lake Hopatcong hosted five major ice houses.  The largest of these was the Mountain Ice House, located near Silver Springs in the area known as Yellow Barn Avenue (named for the barn that stood there until 1939). Constructed in 1913 to replace a wood ice house that had burned, the new ice house was built of fireproof hollow tiles, which acted as insulation for the ice.  It towered some 56 feet above the lake.  Behind the ice house, a residence was constructed for the site superintendent using the same hollow tiles.

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Now: Although it would still be many years before most Americans owned electric refigerators, the advent of electricity made huge ice houses obselete, as ice could now be made at plants located in the cities.  Mountain Ice House harvested its last ice until 1935 and was torn down in 1939.  Roxbury’s Nixon School was built on part of the property.  The lakefront property remained undeveloped until about 1980 and now hosts some of the lake’s most impressive homes.  The superintendent’s house, with its unique tile exterior, still stands next to Nixon School on Mount Arlington Boulevard in Landing.

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These and dozens of other "Then and Now" images and stories are available in an updated version of Lake Hopatcong: Then and Now by Marty Kane, president of the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum. Purchase that and other lake-related history books here on the museum’s website. And see hundreds of photos and other historical paraphernalia at the museum, which is located in Hopatcong State Park.

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