About four years ago, a group of cabin feverish Lake Mills area residents thought it might be fun to get a hold of some vintage ice saws and experience what it was like making a living as an ice harvester at the turn of the 20th century.
The first year, the group had no idea what it was doing and cut huge chunks not realizing the ice weighs about 66 pounds per cubic foot. Some of the pieces were well over 400 pounds but somehow they succeeded in getting them off the lake and set them up at a local business for customers to see.
Over the next couple of years the group thought about actually building something more substantial on the lake for others to enjoy.
Thus, the “Rock Lake Icehenge” was born.
The ice sculpture can be seen on Rock Lake, not too far away from Bartel’s Beach, and was constructed by Drew McHenry, Kevin Lehner, Quinn Williams, Alec Seamars and Patrick Shields.
Lehner said the group of ice cutters learned some techniques about how to cut the ice more uniformly and started stacking it up. Last year was the first year they attempted an Icehenge but the persistent below zero temperatures and the thickness of the ice on Rock Lake did not allow them to finish it.
“We did however begin to appreciate the beauty of the ice especially when the sun is to the west and at a low angle,” Lehner said. “You can appreciate this effect from shore or up close in the late afternoon on a sunny day.”
Using a large ice cutting saw, they cut out sections of the ice weighing about 300 pounds and used those as the pillars of the Henge.
Then the cutters took out sections of ice that weighed about 200 pounds and lifted those up onto the pillars to form the Icehenge. Using a mix of snow and water almost as mortar, they were able to fasten all of the pieces of the Icehenge together.
This year the group of five had almost perfect weather conditions and they were able to finish the sculpture in just two weekends.
As the Icehenge started to take shape, random people would walk out to ask the group what it was doing. Some even offered to help build the Icehenge.
“We want to give special thanks to Alec Seamars of Lake Mills for his help as we would not have been unable to complete the project without his assistance,” Lehner said. “The Henge will stand as long as we have below freezing temperatures, but it will melt fast, especially on sunny days that are above freezing with a moderate breeze from the south.”
With that being said, make sure to check out this ice sculpture before its time runs out!