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Family and friends make a colorful, backyard igloo

David Bauer, Derek Bauer and Reid Hogan, from left, take a break from block-laying on a winter's night.

The ice-block igloo in the backyard of Carrie Hogan's and Steve Peterson's house on Crosby Drive in the town of Hudson was made for the fun of it.

Steve came across an online article about a guy in Canada who had built an ice igloo, and his wife thought it would be a good activity for their family.

Their son Reid Hogan, a sophomore at UW-Stout, and neighbor Derek Bauer, a recent Stout graduate, became the principal architects of the structure and the chief block-layers.

Ross Hogan, a Hudson High School junior, and Derek Bauer, a UW-River Falls student, were the support crew. Ross and Derek made the mixture of snow and water that served as mortar to hold the ice blocks together. The builders dubbed it snowcrete.

The Canadian used milk cartons for the forms to make his ice blocks.

The Peterson-Hogan family found 63 wallpaper paste tubs at Ax-Man Surplus in St. Paul to use for the same purpose.

Carrie and Steve were the chief block-makers, filling the tubs with water and letting them freeze on weeknights. They added food-coloring to the water for visual interest.

Upon his third trip to Family Fresh Market for food coloring, and after having emptied the shelf of it, a store clerk asked him what was going on, Steve Peterson reported.

The two-foot-long and six-inch-wide blocks turned out to be bigger than the igloo builders wanted, so Steve and Carrie cut them in half with a chainsaw - a Poulan with an 18-inch bar. It was like cutting butter, Steve said.

The principles of arch and dome architecture were put to use in building the igloo.

"It's amazing how well they work," said Steve, a software support analyst for a Bloomington, Minn., company.

"We were a little worried about the dome, but it was cold enough the night we finished it that the snowcrete froze very quickly. It just stayed up," he said.

Reid Hogan and David Bauer did most of block-laying on weekends, sometimes working late into the night.

The igloo was built over a month-long period, and completed in late February.

Carrie Hogan drove the project, according to her husband.

"We did it for her. She thought it would be neat," Steve said. "It was pretty fun."

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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