History Nebraska Blog

Marker Monday: Crystal Lake

Welcome to Marker Monday! Each Monday we will feature one of Nebraska’s hundreds of historical markers. If you’d like to see a specific marker featured, comment below!

crystal lake marker


10283-10799 S Crystal Lake Ave, Ayr, Adams County, Nebraska View this marker's location 40.456191, -98.4412

Marker Text

In 1893 the Crystal Ice Company dammed a portion of the Little Blue River 1 1/4 miles north of Ayr, creating "Crystal Lake" for harvesting and selling ice. A huge storage and loading facility was built on the nearby Republican Valley branch of the Burlington Railroad. Horse-drawn scoring knives and long, back breaking ice saws, later replaced by power saws, cut the 16" thick ice into 9'2" squares, which were floated down a channel to be cut into twenty-five, 22" x 22" cakes. Ten thousand tons per season was the capacity. A large ice house was filled for the Hastings trade, and hundreds of carloads were sold to the railroad. This winter ice harvest provided a thirty-day income for as many as fifty workers. In the 1920s mechanical refrigeration ended the ice business and Crystal Lake became a private recreation area for picnics, dancing, swimming, boating, fishing, and skating. In 1937 the 63-acre site was purchased by the state and improved by the WPA. Silt eventually filled the lake, and in 1976 a $180,818 renovation of the lake and park was a project of the Ayr Bicentennial Committee. Crystal Lake State Recreation Area is part of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission system.  

Nebraska Marker Project

The Nebraska Marker Project is for the repainting, repair and in some cases, replacement of state historical markers throughout the state. Nebraska’s markers share our exciting history for generations to come. Please consider donating by visiting the Nebraska Marker Project webpage at http://nshsf.org/the-nebraska-marker-project/.


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