Some call it "The Icehouse," or "The Cribs," while an informational plaque nearby deems it "Uncle Harvey's Mausoleum," named after the businessman who built it in 1919.
By any name the sagging cement structure sitting about 50 yards from shore in Canal Park is one of Duluth's most recognizable landmarks, and sometime between New Year's and Valentine's Day part of it mysteriously disappeared.
The jagged concrete pillar jutting out of the lake next to The Icehouse (that's what we're going with) is no longer visible and there's no trace of it being dragged off or falling into Lake Superior.
Mike Scholtz walked out on the ice yesterday to check things out after hearing about the disappearance on Facebook. He said the ice is completely opaque, so there's no way to see if the pillar is resting at the bottom of the lake.
"It's completely smooth where you think it should've gone through, it's so weird," he says. "It's like the perfect crime."
According to the informational plaque near The Icehouse, a businessman named Harvey Whitney built it as part of a plan to unload sand and gravel from ships via conveyor belt. The creative venture quickly went bust, and he abandoned it three years after it was constructed.
Since then The Icehouse has become one of Canal Park's heavily photographed tourist beacons. On hot summer days swimmers lounge all around the top of it, presumably working up the courage (and warmth) to dive back into Lake Superior.
Occasionally a slackline would appear in between the pillar and the house structure. That's what Tom Deschenes, an employee at Canal Park Brewing, told the Duluth News Tribune he was planning on doing when he discovered the pillar was missing.
On Valentine's Day morning, as he biked to work, "I was thinking the timing was getting to be about right to set up the line," Deschenes recalled. "When I looked to the icehouse, the cylinder piece was gone."
The DNT reported local freediver Jim Richardson, aka Lake Superior Aquaman, wrote on Facebook it was only a matter of time before the column toppled. He explored the area around The Icehouse a few summers ago.
"The column was composed of timbers sheathed in concrete but much of the concrete below water level was eroded away, leaving bare wood," he wrote.
Scholtz said the disappearance of the pillar made him "profoundly sad."
"I was just looking through my old photos and the pillar is just beautiful. It's like this scary-looking cylinder rising out of the lake with wisps of rebar poking out like hair," he said. "There's something that just bothers me about it being gone, probably more than it should."
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