During the 1880s, Milwaukee's breweries used more 335,000 tons of ice per year. Meat packing also required large amounts of ice for the storage and shipment of meats. Wisconsin was seen as a dependable source of high quality ice, particularly as rapid industrial expansion elsewhere led to increasingly polluted waterways. Pewaukee Lake in Waukesha County was a major ice harvesting site, and was used by Best Brewery, followed by Armour, Cudahy, and the Wisconsin Lakes Ice and Cartage Company.
Waukesha Beach was a popular summer recreation area, from its beginnings in 1894 until it closed in 1949. It included roller coasters, a fun house, roller skating, a dance pavilion, souvenir stands and refreshments. Performers appearing at Waukesha Beach included the Andrews Sisters and Ted Mack, who later achieved fame with his Original Amateur Hour, which began on radio and later moved to television.
The clear spring lake which later became known as Pewaukee Lake was ideal for ice for commercial use in the days prior to electrical refrigeration. Ice harvesting was one of the major industries of Pewaukee. Major ice houses included those of meat packers, Armour and Plankinton. Pewaukee became one of the major suppliers of ice to Southeastern Wisconsin.