Mammoth Spring, the largest in northeastern Illinois, burst forth in 1861 on the George Talmadge farm and was used for domestic and irrigation purposes for 28 years. Pumping 150 gallons per minute, the spring furnished the total water supply for the City of Elmhurst from 1889-1916 through a wooden conduit extending north up Spring Road. The original trough of the spring, located on the current Double Tree Hotel site, was destroyed with the widening of Spring Road in 1979.
Derived from the spring were two important businesses: Mammoth Spring Ice Company and the Elmhurst Spring Water Company. Spring Road was named as the wooden conduit extended up Spring Road. The Oak Brook Historical Society has in its collection a three foot section of the wooden conduit donated by the Oak Brook Hyatt Regency.
Mammoth Spring Ice Company
In Oak Brook, the water from the spring at first was used for irrigation and domestic use. The first ice house was built in 1880 by John F. Ruchty on Salt Creek at the foot of Washington Street. The building was 100 feet long, 50 feet wide and 30 feet high, with double walls 18 inches thick filled with sawdust. The ice was packed in tiers, each layer covered with wood shavings.
Fifty to sixty men were required to fill the ice house. When the ice reached the thickness of twelve to eighteen inches, a field was marked out, cut in blocks 24 inches square and floated on rafts through channels to the water box. Then the ice was hauled up a chute by means of a jack attached to a long rope through a series of pulleys. Two teams of horses furnished the power. Several thousand tons of ice were stored each winter for delivery the following summer at fifty cents a hundred pounds. Five wagons made daily trips supplying ice to markets and homes in LaGrange, Western Springs, Hinsdale and South Elmhurst. In 1885, the increasing demands for ice resulted in construction of an additional ice house and two more wagons to serve the area.
When artificial ice replace natural ice, the Ruchty Brother sold their business in 1910 to the West Suburban Ice Company. A few timbers lining the bank of Salt Creek are all that remains of the ice house.
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