64-foot-tall ice castle comes tumbling down [VIDEO]

Call it a very dramatic sign of spring.

Throughout the winter, Roger Hanson -- a computer programmer from Big Lake -- spent his free time building an ice castle sculpture that towered over his own home at 64 feet tall.

But what goes up must come down, and as winter turned to spring, the giant structure fell.

Hanson first began experimenting with his sculpture technique back in 2007. It consists of building an infrastructure of thin metal tubing, then spraying it down with water until a solid base of ice begins to form.

The castle in its Golden Age.
The castle in its Golden Age.

Over the past four years, Hanson has become increasingly ambitious, and this winter constructed scaffolding in the shape of a pagoda that reached 64-feet high. He used a robotic hose he invented himself that accounts for wind direction and speed to continually spray down the structure until it achieved its strangely natural beauty and astounding height.

In March, as temperatures began to warm, Hanson began taking pictures of the castle from the same vantage point everyday at City Pages' request. The melting was gradual until, in the wee hours of April 3rd, Hanson heard a loud cracking sound in his backyard.

"I noticed the very top part started moving forward and all the sudden it all came down in one second," he says.

The biggest pieces crushed the steps of his deck, but did not do much more damage than that. Here's a time elapse video of the ice castle's demise, from March 24 until May 3 -- watch the grass grow and the castle shrink:

Although he's obviously done for the season, Hanson says he'll build another next winter, though likely not in his own backyard. He hopes to rent a parcel of land adjacent to build something even higher -- 100 feet tall -- that won't jeopardize his house. And he's also been approached by an artist in Norway who's hoping to fund a trip for Hanson to come and perform his magic in a public park.

"I learned a lot. The next time I try this I know what not to do," he says of this year's sculpture. "I'm not done with this."

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