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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Photo courtesy: State Historical Society of Iowa. (Iowa City)
Illustration by Norman Zepeski
Advertising poster for Conlin and Kearns. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

CONLIN AND KEARNS. Conlin and Kearns began their ice/ICE HARVESTING business in Dubuque around 1901 by purchasing the ice business of Philip Pier. (1) In 1902 the company became one of the largest ice businesses in Dubuque through the purchase of the Melloy Brothers ice business. (2)

Ice was cut from the MISSISSIPPI RIVER to form channels to the company's icehouse off East 6th Street. Gas-powered saws were used to cut ice rafts, twenty feet long and approximately sixty-four inches wide. As many as eighty men using "spud bars," steel poles with flat edges, guided the rafts toward the ice house where the slabs were laid in any of the building's four rooms.

In 1937 the ice was used for refrigerator cars and shipping purposes only. (3)

Ice pick. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

On May 28, 1911, the spectacular fire that destroyed Dubuque's STANDARD LUMBER COMPANY also destroyed the Conlin and Kearns' icehouse leaving a 12,000-ton charred wood-covered ice block to gradually melt. However, Conlin and Kearns continued to harvest river ice for another twenty years.

The 1911-12 Dubuque City Directory through the 1916-1917 White's Dubuque County Directory listed the address as 568 Iowa.

The 1918 Dubuque and East Dubuque City Directory through the 1945 Dubuque City Directory listed 576 Iowa.




1. "Conlin and Kearns Purchases the Ice Business of Phil Pier," Telegraph Herald, Dec. 21, 1901. (library index card to the Telegraph Herald)

2. "A Big Deal in Ice," Dubuque Telegraph Herald, Dec. 16, 1902, p. 3. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=AX9iAAAAIBAJ&sjid=O3cNAAAAIBAJ&pg=3228,1659338&dq=conlin+and+kearns+dubuque&hl=en

3. "Another Firm Will Cut Ice," Telegraph Herald, Jan. 28, 1938, p. 16. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=hexBAAAAIBAJ&sjid=5akMAAAAIBAJ&pg=2635,6246049&dq=conlin+and+kearns+dubuque&hl=en