I have fond memories of visiting the St. Paul Winter Carnival Ice Palace, the internationally recognized icon of this festival. My dad would take me and my sisters every year one was built. I was therefore delighted to come across a real photo postcard of the 1941 Ice Palace.
The first ice palace was built in 1886, the year the festival began. Blocks of ice for a palace, each weighing approximately 500 pounds, came from Minnesota lakes (many times from Lake Phalen). The 1941 palace was made of 30,000 blocks of ice; the 2004 from 27,000. Wow, no wonder an ice palace wasn’t built every year. That’s one heck of allot of ice (not to mention the amount of melted water later on).
Visitors weren’t allowed to walk thru ice palaces after 1941 until the 2004 ice palace due to liability concerns (insurance was hard to obtain and quite costly). That always disappointed me when I visited the castles. I wanted to explore and imagine life in them.
The illuminated 2004 ice palace also included an ice rink, last a part of the 1938 ice palace. The illumination of palaces in changing colors wasn’t a new idea. The ice palaces from 1937 to 1947 were also illuminated.
A photo gallery of past ice palaces, many of whom are postcards, can be found on the Minnesota Historical Society‘s web site. They are each awesome works of architecture. Enjoy viewing!
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