OK, basicaly it goes like this: At the highest point in the ice-making assembly line, there is a giant reservoir filled with water. Below the reservoir are large cooling vats, called evaporators. As water is released into the evaporators, it circulates around a cylinder containing a coolant (freon), which makes ice form on the inner and outer walls of the evaporators. Once enough ice has formed, hot gas is used to up the cylinder, forcing the ice to fall inlarge chunks into an ice cutter below. From here, the ice is cut into blocks or cubes and dumped into a bin which, by the way, can contain several hundred cubic feet. From the bin, the ice passes through a sorting machine, and with the push of a button, is released into a bag . The bags are then passed through a sealer and loaded onto pallets. At Durangos Southwest Ice, Thomas Vanderleest and his crew of five churn out about 3,500 bags of ice every day, seven days a week. And given all the equipment that is used, something is always breaking down. Nevertheless, the ice making must go on.

Thomas Vanderleest, Danny Breed and Chris Breed load an ice box
onto a trailer. The box was used by a hotshot crew fighting fires
on Red Mesa recently. An employee of Southwest Ice drives a pallet of 7-pound bags out
of the freezer. Bag after bag of ice moves along a conveyer belt. The ice is
neatly stacked inside a freezer truck before delivery. Thomas Vanderleest tosses a 7-pound bag of ice to Marcus Dixon
to be stacked on a pallet.


In this week's issue...

May 2, 2019
In the flow

Rafting season is already under way on the Animas River, which has been flowing at near record levels and almost double the average rate for this time of year.

April 25, 2019
Laying down the law

Over the past couple decades, Jeff Robbins’ work as an  oil and gas lawyer – with a specific focus on serving local communities – allowed him to build relationships and gain the experience needed to carry out one of Colorado’s most sweeping reforms to oil and gas regulations, Senate Bill 181. 

April 18, 2019
A new kind of cold war

It’s a good thing Heidi Steltzer can’t tolerate the heat or the open ocean. “I thought I wanted to be a marine biologist, and I got seasick,” said Steltzer, a professor in the Biology Department and Environmental Science program at Fort Lewis College.