This is a photo of my Grandfather (Grandpa Krampf) and Great Grandfather. They delivered ice and coal to people's homes. The ice was put into an ice box, because people did not have refrigerators in their homes. The photo was taken in St. Louis, Missouri, around 1912. According to my research, at this time, they were using a mechanical freezer and also cutting and storing natural ice.
Polar Wave, the company that they bought their ice from, installed a mechanical freezer to supplement the supply of natural ice. After a warm winter, which produced little ice, they decided to expand the freezer units so that they would not have to depend on natural ice at all.
The natural ice was cut from lakes and rivers, and stored in ice houses, packed with sawdust and other insulation. My Great Grandfather had another use for the ice. When the river froze, he would drive the wagon across the river to avoid paying the 3¢ toll.