According to Lucille Lavelett in her book “Through the Years at Monument Colorado,” Monument Lake was built on land owned by David McShane. In 1902, W.E. Doyle and Thomas Hanks leased the lake and started Hanks and Doyle Ice Company. William Doyle owned land east of the lake where they built ice houses and a short chute to carry the ice blocks from the lake to the ice houses. Lumber for the ice houses was hauled from a sawmill in Black Forest owned by J.W. Higby.
Ice harvesting was a flourishing business that employed many men. Harvesting the ice required men and teams of horses — anywhere from 40-50 men and eight teams of horses would be employed per harvest. Wages were 40 cents an hour. Men worked seven days a week for 10 hours a day. Those with teams were paid $2 a day for use of the teams. Temperatures were 10-20 degrees below zero from November to February, allowing the lake to stay frozen. I can imagine what a cold job the men had and hope they were dressed warmly and did not fall into the frigid water. Ice blocks were 24 inches thick, and between 20,000-30,000 tons of ice were harvested. About 4,000 tons were stored in ice houses, packed in sawdust, to be sold to homes and businesses in the area. The remainder was shipped to Denver and Pueblo by rail.
In 1909, Doyle bought out Hanks and built five more ice houses. On Dec. 31, 1909, strong winds destroyed the ice houses, a major financial loss for Doyle as well as the men who were to work for him that winter. The ice houses were rebuilt and business continued.
In 1920, horse-drawn plows were replaced by gasoline-powered plows, which replaced 10 men and six horses. The plows were supplied by Hugo and Charlie Schubarth. A spur railroad track was put in to load the ice directly on the railroad cars.
In 1930, Doyle was forced to sell to American Refrigerated Transit, with whom they had a contract. The temperatures became warmer in the winter and the contract did not account for a weather change.
In 1943, heavy winds again destroyed the ice houses. Some of the timber from the ice houses embedded in a house on 2nd Street. The ice harvest came to an end due to the warmer winters and the introduction of refrigeration.
Although the ice harvest ceased, the lake was still very much in use. Many people stopped as the traveled by train to picnic or just walk around the lake. Town residents went fishing and enjoyed other activities. When I was growing up in Monument in the 1960s, there were many activities to do on the lake, including paddle boating, swimming, shopping at the a gift store and attending rodeos. My brother worked at the lake, as did many other people I knew. Ice skating on the lake or pulling each other on a sled was also something I really enjoyed. Take some time to go to the lake and see what it has to offer.
Linda Saulnier Case is a third-generation Monument resident. She enjoys researching and sharing about the history of the founding of Monument. Contact Linda with feedback and questions on Tri-Lakes life and history at firstname.lastname@example.org.