ZILLAH – Decades ago, a small stone cooler near the city’s main street was an important destination, especially during the hot, dry summers of the Yakima Valley.
The cooler was built in 1901, before the city was incorporated, with materials from the construction of the Episcopal Church of Christ. Ice was cut from the swamps along the Yakima River in winter and stored underground in sawdust.
“They would provide ice cream to people in the community year round,” Zillah Mayor Scott Carmack said on Friday.
Years later, the cooler became a smoking room, and a small fire burned part of its roof. A residence was erected on the property and the site became derelict, Carmack said. The cooler and its history have disappeared from sight and memory.
It took a few years, but on Friday afternoon the distinctive, deep little building with a new roof took its place as the centerpiece of the Zillah Ice Park at 109 Sixth St. Carmack thanked other managers and staff. of the city during an inauguration ceremony. after providing part of his story.
The process started a few years ago. The small corner property was put up for sale and Carmack approached Zillah City Council to buy it. Members agreed and the roof replacement became an Eagle Scout project. Carmack thanked the Zillah Scouts and the leaders of Troops 595 and 553 for the dedication, the town staff and his wife Kristin, among others.
Cleaning the house brought in nearly $ 400 in a garage sale. The cooler also needed cleaning, although it didn’t appear to contain anything worth selling. But one October evening, Carmack and Norman “Bird Dog” Tilley grabbed a lantern and shovels and started taking the trash out of the cooler.
“Once we got down to earth we found one of the saws they were using to harvest ice from the Yakima River,” Carmack said. The saw and a small bottle are now displayed in a plastic case on one side of the cooler.
“After today, it’s up to the public,” he said at the dedication, which was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Thank you and welcome to the cooler. “
More than two dozen guests enjoyed pizza and lemonade after Carmack’s remarks, and many passed by the cooler to peek inside. Members of the Yakima Flute Troupe performed at a wooden gazebo moved by city staff to Ice House Park from a location near Interstate 82. Its rehabilitation was also an Eagle Scout project, a Carmack said.