If you drive through Voyager Village during the Christmas season, keep your eyes open for this church made from ice blocks. It’s at the corner of Kilkare Road and Hanscom Lake Trailway. In the daytime, the ice catches the sun making it sparkle beautifully and at night, it’s internally lit, so it glows softly from within.
Bob Ellson, the property owner responsible for this stunning Christmas icon said that his dad used to do this when he was growing up in Finlayson, MN. He has a picture of him from 1952, so the tradition dates back pretty far. When he moved to Voyager Village, he thought it would be something that he would carry on and this year will be his fifth year. He said it took him and a group of about 10 volunteers 2 days to construct the church. They start by taking an ATV and trailer on Birch Island Lake to cut the ice blocks with chainsaws. He says the big trick is to make sure the ice is the right thickness. One year, he waited too long and the ice was frozen pretty deep for them to be able to easily make the ice blocks. He estimated they took about a 15 square foot stretch of ice from the lake. That’s a pretty big hole! But he said they block it off or fill it with brush so it’s not a hazard to anyone. (I’m sure it has limited use as a swimming hole this time of year!) Once the blocks are harvested, they use a snow and ice mixture as a mortar to get the layers of ice in even rows. Bob said they layer lights on the inside between the layers of block to give it a heavenly appearance after dark. What a site to behold! When you’re feeling a little harried from the season, the beautiful simplicity of this ice church transport you to a place of peace. Thanks Bob!