“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Chantilly in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Walney Outbuildings


Walney Icehouse Marker image. Click for full size.
December 23, 2006
1. Walney Icehouse Marker
Inscription. Emmeline Machen (at Walney) to Arthur Machen, December 1853
“As to the Ice-house I remind James of it daily and indeed almost every time I see him. … Campbell promised to come today to commence digging it, but has failed to make his appearance. …Father seems more in favor of it than ever before and has given his consent to its construction on the old site. I do hope that we may this year not only fill one, but obtain one that will keep [sic] filled.”

James Machen (at Walney) to Lewis Machen, January 24, 1854
“We have been engaged today in getting ice, which, though not very thick, is of fine quality; I hope to make a finish tomorrow. The Ice House is completed all to putting on the shingles; they were brought from the R.R. [sic] to day [sic] & [sic] will be used immediately. After obtaining the Ice [sic] every excertion [sic] will be made to get the corn…”

As we learn from the Machen letter excerpts above, the hole in the ground in front of you is what is left of the foundation of the ice house built in 1854. Emmeline’s letter seems to tell us that this ice house may not have been the first one built at this location. The floor of the ice house was about 16 feet below ground so that cool ground temperatures would keep ice from melting during the hot summer months. The stone
Walney Icehouse Marker image. Click for full size.
June 15, 2008
2. Walney Icehouse Marker
The ruins of the Machen family’s icehouse.
walls extended above ground several feet, and the building was covered with a wooden roof. For the average farmer, ice harvested from their own pond allowed a family to chill drinks, make ice cream, keep dairy products from spoiling on the way to local markets and preserve food in ice boxes which were commonplace in kitchens by the mid-1800s.

Emmeline Machen (at Walney) to Lewis Machen, February 17, 1858
“…Since the snow storm of Saturday, we have sufficient cold weather to make very respectable Ice, & [sic] James has been busily engaged yesterday & to day [sic] in filling the ice house. …”

Ice harvesting in Virginia would begin as soon as the ice reached 8 to 12 inches think (6 inches in a bad year). It is thought that ice was cut from a pond next to Walney Creek about 400 yards from here and hauled by wagon or sled to the ice house. Blocks of 40 pounds or more were then carefully stacked and straw packed around them for insulation. If the ice house was properly built and the straw well packed, the Machens could have expected their ice to last through the summer and into the next fall. They would have come to the ice house daily to break off a block of ice for use at the farm house.

The Machen ice house burned by the late 1890s. It was never rebuilt. The hole was used as a trash pit in the early 20th century.
Erected by
Walney Ice House conceptual drawing by Rob Martin image. Click for full size.
June 15, 2008
3. Walney Ice House conceptual drawing by Rob Martin
Drawing is from the marker.
Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, Fairfax County Park Authority.
Location. 38° 51.613′ N, 77° 25.9′ W. Marker is in Chantilly, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker can be reached from Walney Road. Touch for map. Marker is located in Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5040 Walney Road, Chantilly VA 20151, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Walney Outbuildings (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Walney Outbuildings (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Walney House (about 400 feet away); The Walney Dairy (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named The Walney Dairy (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named The Walney Dairy (about 400 feet away); The Cross Farmhouse (approx. 0.6 miles away); On This Site (approx. 1.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chantilly.
Regarding Walney Outbuildings. The marker features two photos on the lower right captioned: “Transporting ice cut from the pond to the ice house on the Roosevelt estate—about 1890. Courtesy Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York” and “Restored Ice House at Red Rock Wilderness Regional Park Leesburg, VA.”

The marker also has drawings of a Saw, Ice Tongs and Hand Ice-Plow along with the inscription: “Farmers and small operators used few specialized tools to cut and haul ice.”
Also see . . .  Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. (Submitted on June 15, 2008.)
Categories. Agriculture
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 15, 2008. This page has been viewed 931 times since then and 32 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on June 15, 2008. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.
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