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Photo of Jim EuDaly's Model of the Hinton Ice House

 

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THE ICE HOUSE

by

William E. Simonton, III

 

About 1943 the icing platform was extended from the west side of the ice house. A former employee from 1925-1972 of the C & O Railway who grew up in Hinton, W. S. "Sims" Wicker (His father was the Railway Express agent, and as a boy he slipped into the ice house on hot summer days to retrieve ice) asserts the additional platform did not otherwise change the ice house, and the walkway across the front was there from his earliest memory and prior to the addition of the west icing platform. The odd architecture makes it almost certain that the walkway across the front is a modification of the original structure, but when it was done is unknown. Absent photographs or company drawings showing its prior appearance, the oral history of "Sims" Wicker will have to suffice. 


This small ice house with its short platforms, was used to ice two (2) diners which the C & O held over every night at Hinton, and any air conditioned Pullmans which originated at Hinton (those with ice bunkers which were the majority as only The George Washington used mostly mechanical refrigeration from the beginning). The C & O served meals on a schedule on its name trains The George Washington, The Fast Flying Virginian, and The Sportsman.  The diners on The George Washington traveled all the way from Washington to Cincinnati, but the diners on the Sportsman and the F.F.V. were only on those trains during meal times. Laying the diners over at Hinton permitted the C & O to service eight trains (4 east and 4 west) with seven (7) diners and permitted the diner crews to sleep at night off the railroad. [1] Ice was originally brought by horse drawn wagon to the rear of the ice house and loaded by the chute into the top of the ice house. Later trucks were used. After 1935 ice for passenger car ice bunkers was brought by box car and loaded into the lower level. The ice house also provided ice to engines, cabooses and yard crews.  The icing of the diners  would been complicated by the movement and icing of any early heavyweight air conditioned passenger cars with ice bunkers.


Although not apparent in the drawings, the walls were 12" thick and filled with wood shavings, and the doors on the small openings in the end walls are recessed to the inside of the ice house walls. They may have been used for ventilation or to pass blocks of ice without opening the main doors. The main doors of the ice house was 12" thick with a overlapping 45 bevel at the center joint and felt seals.
Contrary to what one might think, there were no opening from the top into the ice house. Observation of the interior of the Ice House did not reveal any openings or closed openings from the platform level into the Ice House.  Therefore, any ice stored in the Ice House would have been moved into the Ice House through the front door. The uninsulated small door was a later addition and was used by laborers to avoid opening the heavy main doors. When it was added is not known, but it was probably added after the structures conversion to storage. The railings on the eastern platform were pipe and on the western platform were wood.    


   
The structures beneath the platform are also important. No. 104 was the Air Conditioning Supply House which was built about 1935 to provide supplies and parts for the C & O's first all air conditioned passenger train "The George Washington". The board and batten structure attached to No. 104 was a later addition and was last used for storage of rock salt required in icing the bunkers. It was probably built after 1950 as the board and batten are on approximately 11-1/2" centers instead of 12" centers as on the older structures at Hinton. All the structures would have been retired about 1973. A sloped roof was added over the platform across the front of the ice house about that time. Although dilapidated and partly overgrown, the structures were still standing in August 1992 and later. 

 
            I first saw the ice house at Hinton in 1976, and after getting a good look at it in 1981 decided I would like to build a model of it some day. It took fourteen years to acquire the necessary information, prepare drawings accompanying this article and build a model. 

            Unlike the rather plain ice houses one normally sees plans for, this one has character. Although on first impression, a difficult structure to build, the only difficult areas are the louvers and the two types of brackets which support the roof. The brackets can be made simpler or be mass produced from a master leaving only the louvers as sticking point for most modelers and substituting wire screen would solve that problem. Evergreen Scale Models makes a 0.060 (5.2") spaced novelty siding which is a good size and appearance match for 5" siding used on the ice house and also 6" x 6" (5.5" x 5.5") which used as the corner lap matches the 5.5" prototype dimension on the bottom of the structure. The Evergreen 4" x 4" is a modern 3.5" x 3.5" (.040) and must be shimmed out to 4" by laminating two sides with 0.005 for use on No. 104 and the upper level of the ice house. I used a kit-bashed Tichy C & O Toolhouse for the addition to No. 104. If your space is limited, build the platform across the front of the ice house and to the east. That would be "correct" until about 1930. Almost any short siding close to a passenger station on your railroad would do. This ice house would be authentic for any period from circa 1916, or earlier, until today (retired), and is unique(ly) C & O.

 

Copyright 2003 - 2010 William E. Simonton, III

 

 

1.        Information on diner movements researched by Jesse Smith and presented at the C & O Historical Society Convention at Charlottesville, Virginia, July 26, 2003.