Visit the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center to explore life before refrigeration. Susquehanna Heritage and local historian Lynn Smoker have developed an immersive exhibit about the ice harvesting industry which opens on Tuesday, January 8th. Prior to refrigeration, homes and commercial businesses required ice to keep food cold. A world-wide industry was created to collect ice from frozen rivers, ponds, and lakes and ship it by wagon and rail to be sold. Pennsylvania ranked third in the nation for ice production behind only Maine and New York. Locally, Columbia had at least three ice houses that kept residents supplied with quality ice for their homes. Deliveries of ice were brought by the ‘ice man’ to homes on a regular basis. The exhibit follows the ice from the river to the kitchen. Visitors will enjoy the astounding number of objects on display. Tools on display from the ice harvesting process include drills, saws, and plows. Antique ice boxes, ice shavers, ice crushers, and other memorabilia are also on display.

The exhibit was designed and installed by Susquehanna Heritage, which manages the building for the Borough of Columbia. Objects and content development was led by Lynn Smoker. His collection truly brings this bygone industry back to life. Susquehanna Heritage is one of twelve state designated heritage areas in Pennsylvania that is working to highlight important local history and spark economic development through heritage and ecotourism. The organization’s focus on the Susquehanna’s history is brought to life in this new exhibit at Columbia Crossing. The exhibit is free but donations are appreciated to help operate the center and provide educational programs.

Join Susquehanna Heritage on Thursday, January 24th at 6:30 pm for a special Talk with the Collector in the exhibit hall. Lynn Smoker, owner of the objects in the display, will discuss the ice harvesting industry and his collection. Guests can enjoy complimentary refreshments during the event. Suggested donation $10 per person. RSVP at

Mini-tours will also be available on selected Sundays in January and February. Susquehanna Heritage staff will lead 20-30-minute tours through the exhibit. Guides will showcase important objects, provide in depth information, and answer questions. Tours start at 1:30 pm inside Columbia Crossing on January 13th and 27th as well as February 3rd and 17th.

Columbia Crossing River Trails Center is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 4 pm and Sundays 12 pm to 4 pm. Ice Harvesting Along the Susquehanna will remain on display through March 31, 2019.