This quiet little area in Clearfield County is located between LaJose, Ansonville and Irvona. Berwinsdale was named for the Berwin White Coal Company.
The railroad played an important role in the heyday of industry and growth in Berwinsdale.
In the early 1900’s, an ice-cutting and storage plant was operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad in Berwinsdale. This service provided ice for the passenger trains and the refrigerator cars operated by the PRR.
Refrigerator cars, also referred to as “reefers,” would transport perishable goods via railroad.
Men would lay out fields of ice. The crews would then come in with bars and split out the field of ice into large blocks that would be sawed into squares.
The ice was then funneled up the shoot to a conveyer, and as each section went through the channel, the crew would narrow it down until it was one row of continuous ice.
When it left the water, it was single cakes of ice. The ice was then stored in a storage building for future use. The crew would also pack the ice into the refrigerated train cars when they stopped for a fresh load.
Teams of horses helped transport the ice from the pond to the storage building. When the snow would cover the ice, the horses would also scrape the snow from the ice.
The ice house operation was a major employer for the townsfolk during the Great Depression. It is reported that the ice house held 10,000 ton of ice. In the 1930’s, the Berwinsdale ice station ceased operation.
By the 1940’s, the advancement of technology made it possible for air conditioning to be placed in the train cars along with heavy insulation.
Additionally, private shippers had developed large and sophisticated icing stations, which were usually located along major railroad division points.
Pictures are c. 1920.