Apalachicola, Florida is a seaside city in the Florida panhandle. With a population of approximately 2,410, one might not expect it to be the location of an event of lasting import but it is. In the nineteenth-century, the town was a bustling port city. Due to the importance of the city in international trade, many foreign missions had consulates in the city, including the French. I imagine that July 14th, 1847 was a hot day. On that date, the French Consul hosted a Bastille Day celebration. His guests were in for a pleasant surprise. In those days, ice was only available in the south from shipments of blocks of ice carved out of lakes in the winter from the north. It was a lucrative trade and innovative ice merchants had developed a way of prolonging the shelf life of the product by shipping it covered in saw dust. However, by mid-July, the ice had long vanished from Apalachicola’s balmy shores. Hence, the guests of the consul were amazed when servers appeared with cool bottles of champagne in buckets of ice! How did this happen?
The answer is innovation and American ingenuity. A local doctor, John Gorrie had long experimented with ways to keep his patients cool when suffering from various maladies. Through hard work and determination, he developed the world’s first ice machine. As friends of the French Consul, he chose this occasion to announce his profound invention to the world. Sadly, like many innovators Dr. Gorrie was a man before his time. The world was just not ready for such a contraption and his invention eventually caused him great financial misfortune. But his efforts paved the way for the ice we now enjoy made in our refrigerators and his innovations in cooling eventually led to the technology that allowed all southern and southwestern states to grow and flourish. None of which would have been possible without air conditioning. Let’s have a big round of applause for Dr. Gorrie!
Just as one would be surprised at seeing ice on a summer day in 1847 Florida, people are equally surprised to experience ice on a bridge when the road one is traveling on is not frozen. Yet this a dangerous condition that arises on many bridges as the weather starts to cool and is the cause of many auto accidents. The reason is scientific. The ground below a road maintains heat. Whereas a bridge is surrounded by air. Thus, the ground heat will oftentimes prevent a road from freezing as it maintains a temperature above freezing while the bridge will ice. Hence many bridges across the country maintain warning signs of their propensity to freeze.
It is easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when cruising down a road for many miles with no ice in sight. Many people forget to slow down and use caution when approaching a bridge in such circumstances. I hope that this little story will serve as a little reminder to the reader to remember that this peril can exist and to slow down and use caution when approaching bridges. Drive safely and arrive alive. Cheers to Dr. Gorrie and Viva La France!
And when you need someone to help navigate challenging legal matters, call the one you can trust. Contact Chris today … click here.