This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fountain ice

The cold weather has left the reflecting pond at SJC frozen and looking rather forbidding.

I have not written much, and perhaps nothing at all, about the reflecting pond. It is perhaps the most scenic spot on the campus. It was originally a little pond or swamp that was dug out and enlarged at the end of the 19th century. After the water tower was built in 1911, a fountain was added in the middle where there had originally been a small island. In 1912 the pond was dredged and a cement bottom was poured. Over the years many changes have been made.

In the winter of 2002-2003, the water of the fountain was not shut off during the winter, but allowed to freeze and build up a huge ice formation. This may have caused some structural damage to the fountain because for the last several years the water has been shut off. However, the ice that formed that year was quite spectacular, as the picture below (from January, 2003) indicates.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries ice was harvested from the pond and placed in an ice house to provide refrigeration during the summer months. It was in these years that the ice industry was a major business in the U.S. All of it, of course, disappeared with the advent of the modern electric refrigerator.

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