Three weeks after it toppled and sank beneath the Lake Superior ice offshore from Canal Park, Duluth's lost pillar has been found.
A team of St. Louis County Rescue Squad members, working with a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV), located the concrete column - part of the ruins known as the cribs, the icehouse or Uncle Harvey's Mausoleum - late Saturday afternoon in about 9 feet of water.
Shawn Olesewski, Dave Phillips and Evan Eid drilled a hole in the ice to launch the ROV, and used it to find the portion of the pillar that broke off about 5 p.m. Feb. 7 - almost exactly three weeks before Saturday's search.
The portion of the nearly century-old pillar that had been above water now is resting on the rocky lake bed next to the remaining underwater stub, said Rescue Squad Captain Rick Slatten. It's on the shore side of that stub, and is positioned about parallel with the shore. The column broke off just beneath the surface, with the sheared-off timber pilings clearly visible.
The Rescue Squad -- made up of volunteers -- used the fallen pillar as a target for training with the ROV on Saturday, Slatten said. He also said that because the nearby icehouse structure is a draw for swimmers who jump from it into the water, officials wanted to know where the column was resting underwater, and whether it was a hazard.
The column - and the nearby, larger structure often called the icehouse - were built in the late 1910s as part of a short-lived sand and gravel unloading dock. In more recent years the ruins have been a oft-photographed landmark along the Canal Park shore, a magnet for summer swimmers and winter walkers.
The pillar also provided an anchor for slacklines between it and the icehouse, on which a few thrill-seekers tried to keep their balance walking from one end to the other.
Its disappearance was first widely noticed in mid-February, but the exact date it fell was not immediately known. After the News Tribune sought photos and observations from readers, the paper created a timeline from the reports it received and managed to place the column's fall to sometime between 4:40 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7.
Visitors to Canal Park reported strong winds and shifting ice that day, which probably proved to be the final straw that toppled the pillar after decades of wear from water and ice.