Monday, June 30, 2008

The Wizard of Manitou

June 30, 2008
I think, if you can call Edison “the wizard of Menlo Park” then Dave Stowasser should get the nod for this lake—and particularly for Treasure Island.

The island was feeling the effects of serious erosion in the early 80’s, and the new owner turned to Dave to solve the problem. One of the first orders of business was to build a sea wall that could stand up to the ice pack in winter and the crazy waves from boats in summer.

How do you build a sea wall on an island? With great patience. Local lore has it that the first attempt at a barge substantial enough to move concrete ended up at the bottom of the lake. A hopper had been constructed in the middle of a great raft composed of empty oil drums. After the first loading and the subsequent submersion the conclusion—not enough oil drums.

The second try was successful and Dave and a number of young workers moved concrete by barge and wheel barrow through the months and through the winter. The winter work required sledge hammering ahead of the barge to keep the ice navigable. The end result is shown in the picture above—a massive sea wall which took one cubic yard of concrete for every stride upon it. Speaking of strides, it makes a wonderful sidewalk as well.

The second order of business--supporting the back of the sea wall without carving away the island to make a ledge. To do this the cottage was jacked up high enough to bring in a skip loader to work under it. The earth was dug out to make a back fill for the wall--and the cottage had the benefit of a basement!

Why stop there? A foundation was dug on the south side to accommodate a guest home (presently the site of Alice's deck instead), and of course--the trench was filled with more concrete from the barge.

The final touch? A tire was dropped from the skip loader--a belt was added--and it became a well driller--installing a new well down to one hundred feet. Not a bad season's work for the wizard!