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YANKTON, S.D. (AP) — After nearly 40 years of smashing bottles underneath its boards, The Ice House is replacing its famous loading dock.

The nationally recognized institution, which got its name by being the first place in the Yankton area to artificially produce ice in 1928, was named one of America’s best dive bars by Esquire magazine and was also featured on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

Two things make a visit to The Ice House unique. At the end of prohibition around 1933, the business obtained a beer license and began a long tradition of serving beer to individuals who parked in their car along the loading dock. Along with that practice, it also became standard for individuals to smash their bottles under the dock when they were finished drinking.

Both traditions have stood the test of time thanks to grandfather laws, but the brick wall underneath the deck has not been so lucky. After years of absorbing the impact from bottles being clashed against its surface, it has eroded and began to crumble. The need to repair the brick underneath the deck facilitated the replacement of both structures at the same time.

“The wood on the dock was getting really bad and underneath it the brick on the building had been broken out from people breaking their bottles against it,” said Carla Anderson, whose great-grandfather started the business. “We had to repair the damage done to the bricks, and it was just easier to do that with the deck torn out.”

The new dock will be roughly the same size and dimensions as the original. Aside from looking newer, nothing will change regarding the location’s unique traditions.

“People can still break their bottles under the new dock,” Anderson told the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan . “We put in a second layer of brick under there, so we wouldn’t run into the same problems again.”

While the business is busiest on Fridays and Saturdays during the summer months, Anderson did note that there were a couple groups that were hoping to snag a picture on the dock last weekend.

“We had a few disappointed weddings this weekend when they couldn’t get their picture taken on the old dock,” Anderson said. “It’s kind of the thing to do now. People like to come down after their wedding and take pictures out front.”

Locals are welcome to christen the new dock with a few broken beer bottles once construction is complete.

“Everybody is more than welcome to come check it out,” Anderson said.


Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan,