Well, it was fun while it lasted.
But the beautiful Crystal Beach ice caves are no more.
“They’re gone,” Fort Erie Fire Chief Larry Coplen said Wednesday afternoon. “We decided just before lunch, pending warm weather and rain coming, it would be in our best interest and the interest of public safety to knock them down,” Coplen said.
A contractor was brought in at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and used a backhoe to knock down the ice caves, located only a few miles straight across Lake Erie from downtown Buffalo.
It took about an hour to demolish them, Coplen said.
The unusual ice formations appeared last month, when sustained high winds pushed free-floating pieces of ice onto the shore with great force. When the leading edge of the ice hit the shore, the ice behind it, with nowhere else to go, piled on top, creating weird shapes and configurations.
Some of the ice structures that were created had openings large enough for people to crawl or walk through. They had become quite the attraction for residents of southern Ontario and even the Buffalo area, drawing an estimated 50,000 curious visitors to this stretch a few hundred yards long, just east of the site of the former Crystal Beach amusement park.
In fact, two people were hurt in tumbles on the slippery terrain covering a frozen Lake Erie: one suffered a suspected concussion, the other a possible broken hip.
That added to the growing concern about the formations as the temperatures warmed up this week.
When cracks could be seen forming on Monday, the area was evacuated and closed off to the public. The ice had started to shift, large cracks had formed and there was water over the ice in spots, officials said.
“It was just way too dangerous,” Coplen said. “We wanted this to be a positive experience for everyone.”