Historic Markers Across Alabama

Red Bay Ice and Gin Company

Marker ID:  
Location: On 2nd Street Southeast and 4th Avenue South (Alabama Route 24), Red Bay, AL.
County: Franklin
Coordinates: N 34° 26.449    W 088° 8.589
  34.44081666    -88.14315
Style: Mounted **
Waymark: None


In Red Bay's early years, ice was shipped by freight train to Red Bay. The ice was buried in sawdust to keep it from melting until all had been sold. On the day the ice arrived, the freight car was put on a sidetrack, emptied, and later picked up by another train. From the open door of the freight car, two men would place a ramp and large cakes of ice would slide down the ramp into the open door of the adjacent icehouse into the sawdust. Ice was then loaded onto a horse driven wagon and peddled through town. The ice wagon was a welcome sight to stores and homes alike, a generous amount of ice could be purchased for only ten cents. Some people had iceboxes, others would wrap the ice with quilts and store in the tub or other waterproof container to use as needed. In warm months, it did not last until the next delivery.

In later years, C.W. Bolton built an ice plant and a cotton gin downtown Red Bay near where the Arts and Entertainment Center is located today. The two businesses were side by side with the ice plant being nearest the main road. To make the ice, Mr. Bolton needed clear good tasting water. A site was selected on his property and a well was dug. Local people boasted that it was fine, flowing well similar to an artesian well.

In 1945, E.J. Gober (Mr. E.) purchased the ice plant, the cotton gin, and some additional property. He operated the two businesses in the old facilities for only short time. To better serve his customers, he built both a new ice plant and new cotton gin. Mr. Gober made sure there was more space between the two businesses.

In the new ice plant, water was frozen in large metal tanks or vats. The vats containing their frozen treasure of ice were lifted by overhanging hooks that rolled the length of the building. The blocks of ice were stored in well-insulated rooms. Often a delicious watermelon would be cooling there, too. Later the ice was moved to a platform and sawed to a size that could be handled. A fine mist of shaved ice could be felt during the sawing. Town people purchased directly from the ice plant. Several trucks ran regular weekly routes in the community surrounding Red Bay. Eventually, the advent of electricity in the area made refrigerators a popular item in the kitchen.

Activity whirled around the new cotton gin from the first bale in 1948 until it closed in the early 1970s. The Gober Brothers, Eric (Mr. E.), Jim and Jack were master ginners. Farmers traveled long distances passing other gins to gin their cotton with Mr. E. The Gober's Brother's dad, Mr. Felton Gober, the first mayor of Red Bay, had taught his sons well. They grew up working with him at his water-driven gin located on the Mississippi side of Red Bay. Billy Moore , Mr. E's son-in-law, operated the gin for years. Mr. E's daughter, Katrine and Donna, as well as two Jim Gober's son's Felton and Roy Lee, also worked at the gin..

End of Red Bay Ice and Gin Company