1886 Ice Palace

The 1886 Ice Palace

The St. Paul Ice Palace and Winter Carnival hired the Hutchison brothers of Montreal to design and build St. Paul’s first ice palace. The sale of $10 stocks covered the $5210 building cost. Central Park was chosen as the palace location on an eight-acre site bounded on three sides by busy thoroughfares: 13th street on the south, Robert Street on the east, and Cedar Street on the west, making access easy.

Construction was delayed due to temperatures above freezing, then work slowed as the thermometer dropped to -30 degrees. When the weather moderated, the workmen were able to make up for lost time. Much of the ice was harvested from the Mississippi River. Communities from across the state contributed additional ice for the palace, including White Bear Lake, Big Stone Lake, Glenwood, Wahpeton, Minnetonka, Fargo and Bismarck. Stillwater cut the 4’ cornerstone from the St. Croix river.

Ice Harvesting

Ice Harvesting

Ropes, block and tackle, and much horse power lifted the ice blocks upward where workmen swung the blocks into place. A bucket of water was poured onto the top of the wall as the new block was lowered into place, freezing instantly. Once a course of blocks was in place, the top surface was smoothed and leveled for the next course. When the carnival opened on February 4, 1886, people streamed into Carnival Park, each paying 25 cents to visit the palace.

Through the course of the Carnival a mythology emerged: Borealis, the Ice King came from Manitoba to Saint Paul in his ice-encased train to take St. Paul as his winter playground. Fire King Coal must save the city from a fate of perpetual winter. The rivals battled each other in Carnival Park with Borealis defending the ice palace hurling snowballs, while Fire King Coal set the palace aflame with fires and fireworks. After storming the palace, the Ice King released his hold on the city to the Fire King, and the St. Paul Ice Palace and Winter Carnival ended.

Featured image: The 1886 Ice Palace

More Ice Palace History:
1886 Ice Palace
1887 Ice Palace
1888 Ice Palace
1889-1900 Ice Palaces
1916-1917 Ice Palaces
1930-1937 Ice Palaces
1938-1941 Ice Palaces
1942-1975 Ice Palaces
1976-2004 Ice Palaces