By Rocky Barker
story of the house that fell through the ice of Lake Superior off the shores
January when temperatures in
“They wanted me to plow the road,” said Bill McCarty of Bayfield. “I said no.”
seven-room, fully furnished house only made three of the four miles to
Madeline March 2. The truck broke through the ice and eventually pulled the
vacation home to the bottom of
The story made international news. It came less than two years after the Edmund Fitzgerald went down and only five months after Gordon Lightfoot’s song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts.
picture of the house sitting crooked in the broken ice ran from
One picture taken later in the month showed the sign warning drivers that the regular ice road from Bayfield to LaPointe was unsafe for cars. Someone painted an addition: “and houses.”
Like all good news stories it stayed around for an encore. The Coast Guard ordered the owners to remove it in the spring from its 90-foot deep resting place.
Divers worked with Ed Erickson, owner and
skipper of the scow
Edmund Fitzgerald, the house story had its own song, “It Sunk,”
written by Washburn cop and folksinger Tim Chaney, now of
“I heard about the house through the song,” said Tom Martin Erickson, host of Wisconsin Public Radio’s Simply Folk.
I was a reporter for the Washburn-Bayfield County Times then. They were moving the house on a Wednesday, the day we went to press. I covered the event in my 1965 Volkswagen bug, driving nearly a mile out from LaPointe to wait for the truck to come.
The house tilted off the driver’s side and looked like it fell off the trailer. I drove up and found the late Lyle Rhine, the driver warming his hands.
The truck was still running and in gear. Moments later, the ice cracked and the timber of the house moaned as the truck sank with a gurgle from its exhaust pipe.
I raced back to the newspaper office in Washburn and yelled to Editor Don Albrecht, “Hold the presses!”
© Rocky Barker 2009
Moving plan falls through
Rhine of Dale Movers, a
quarters of the way across the road plowed just for the moving trip the tires
of the trailer broke through the ice and with the truck still running and in
divers worked with Ed Erickson, owner of the
Copyright 1977 Tim Chaney
He came through the forest and he had a song to sing.
About concrete walls and neon halls and place to sit and eat.
He told of the story of a land that he would build.
With flashing lights and city folks and fountains that he drilled.
Then he planned to bring some boats from ports near and wide.
And when the first boat entered into his harbor deep and wide.
The captain yelled across the horn he had no place to hide.
And then he planned to take his toys across the distance shore.
And no one ever thought that they would see his house no more.
Yes the timber cracked and the men were crying and there was a mighty sound.
As the house they drug across the ice went slowly down and down.
He came through the forest and he had no song to sing.
Just broken promises to folks and other things he dreamed.
And now the story’s over and the man he sits alone.
With his fully automated aqua-summer home
There was a washer and a dryer and chair and a couch.
He never had a chance to take it all out.
It had glass sliding doors and thermal window panes.
A trough for the gutters for even when it rains.
There were pictures on the walls and carpet in the halls.
Blankets on the beds and showers in the heads.