Maine Gets an Ice Carousel

A frozen-water Nordic tradition comes to the U.S.

Those long Maine winters will make you a bit squirrely, unless you have an active imagination and a chainsaw. Those—along with a bit of inspiration from YouTube (like in the video at the bottom of the page)—prompted Mark Holyoke of Dedham to make an ice carousel on Moulton Pond, according to the Bangor Daily News(scroll down in the link to see video).

What the heck is an…? Glad you asked. Seems the Swedes and Finns—whose winters last forever and who turn stacking firewood into an art form that is actually the subject of numerous coffee table books—have been making them for years. You take a handy hunk of frozen lake. Cut a perfect circle of your preferred diameter through the ice with a chainsaw (more on this in a bit). You harness any number of sources of propulsion—a trolling motor mounted in a hole near the edge, a draft animal, a cousin or two—to get the ice disk spinning. If you cut it right, there’s little to no resistance against the edge of the hole. And you then stand on it, watch the world slowly spin past, and glory in your status as a tool-making mammal.

Using 2x4s, a concrete anchoring pin, and a bracket to hold his chainsaw, Holyoke scribed a circle with a 64-foot diameter, then carefully made his cut. As he told the Bangor Daily News, “Basically, we spun an arc with the chainsaw on the outside. This was our first time ever doing it, so the second attempt will be a lot easier. But we only killed one chainsaw [while making the carousel]. Only one. That’s pretty hard, running them in water like that.”

Only one chainsaw! That can’t be more than, say, $500, right?

Still, the 45-second video is pretty compelling. The world spins by at 1 mph as Holyoke ponders how he might enhance his creation. He envisions an ice-skating party on the disk with a campfire in the middle and Tiki torches lighting the night. Watching some kids skate and sipping a cup of hot chocolate as the sun sets actually sounds pretty heavenly right about now.

Here’s a video of the Finnish ice carousel pictured above: