The Former Lemp Ice Houses and the South Riverfront

Detail of Compton and Dry, Pictorial St. Louis, 1876, Plate 9.

I looked at the town of DePue, Illinois, several years ago in an article at St. Louis Magazine, and how the Lemp and Anheuser-Busch breweries brought ice down from the Illinois River to St. Louis. But there is also fairly good evidence of how the ice houses along the river on the South Riverfront looked that served the Lemp Brewery, first in Compton and Dry (William J. Lemp Sr. bought the land along the river very early in the late 1860s and early 1870s, according to deeds filed in the Recorder of Deeds office), and they only grew in size with the prominence of the Iron Mountain Railroad passing right by. Compton and Dry’s Pictorial St. Louis from 1876 shows that William Lemp built ice houses almost immediately, and there was some sort of bridge or conveyor belt that brought the ice up from the barges on the river.

Ice Houses and Lower Shipping Yard, 1892, Courtesy of Stephen Walker

The Lemp Brewery had the Western Cable Railroad was a shortline that connected the brewery to the main lines. It annoyed both railroad company owners and workers since it skirted regulations due to its length and status as a short line. By the early Twentieth Century, the ice houses had shrunk to just one, apparently, and also a “bottle house,” which I assumed accepted empties from around the United States that returned in empty refrigerated Lemp boxcars.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, St. Louis, Missouri, August 1909, Sheet 109

There’s nothing left of the ice houses except some vacant lots fenced in by barbed wire, but to the south there are some interesting industrial buildings that I’ve looked at before.

Things don’t change much down here and I didn’t notice if anything was different.

These massive silos are easily visible from I-55, but I doubt most people know how you would reach them from the street grid.

Here are some cool photographs of locomotives in the railyards along what I think are the south riverfront, due to the presence of a Hooverville in the background, which older residents told me were located east of Dutchtown.

Arthur Rothstein, Locomotive in Railyards along River, January 1939, Library of Congress, LC-USF33- 002988-M5
Arthur Rothstein, Railroad Tracks, January 1939, Library of Congress, LC-USF33- 002989-M3
Arthur Rothstein, Railroad Yards along River, January 1939, Library of Congress, LC-USF33- 002992-M3

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Martin says:

    Though you might be interested to know that a member of the class of steam engines pictured still exists in Kirkwood, the #318. Love the pictures!

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      No kidding? That’s great news! At the Museum of Transport?

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