PORT CLINTON — Welcome to northwest Ohio’s newest tourist attraction.
Visually stunning ice shoves along the Lake Erie shoreline continued to draw thousands of adventure-seekers to the Port Clinton area Wednesday while also captivating millions more with images shared across the world by amateur photography buffs and national news organizations.
All because of frozen water.
The phenomenon is much more than a few ice cubes, of course.
Enormous slabs, some appearing to weigh thousands of pounds, were pushed by wind toward the Ohio shoreline Friday night to form what almost appears to be a series of mini-glaciers.
The unusual formations, generating monikers such as “ice mountains,” can be seen both west and east of Port Clinton, as well as near the portion of the shoreline near the center of town. But they are especially popular along West Lakeshore Drive, just west of Port Clinton’s drawbridge over the Portage River, where there has been a steady succession of climbers both young and old.
Pull into a large parking lot there and there will be a combination of people snapping photos with their cell phones from behind a seawall of rocks while others — not just kids — brave the slippery, snow-covered ice and potentially dangerous shards.
It’s almost like winter rock-climbing and a modified cavern visit at once, except it’s all beautiful ice.
Most agree it’s an intoxicating experience getting such a close-up look at nature’s beauty from any angle, but especially those who leave the relative comfort of pavement to climb up on the ice to see sunlight and colors from the blue sky cast off a smooth, crystal-like texture in an open pit beyond the first wall of ice.
“It looks like huge pieces of beach glass the way the sun reflects off it. It’s beautiful,” Janice Carden, of Wakeman, Ohio, said from atop one of the floes as her husband, Rickman Carden, 50, watched her from the pavement. “It’s like a scene from the movie Frozen.”
Of course, the spectacular sight won’t be frozen much longer with temperatures in the 50s expected this weekend, a forecast many people said had motivated them to get there before the formations thaw. Rain forecast for Sunday and Monday also is expected to expedite melting.
“It’s crazy. Everybody’s been saying the pictures don’t do it justice,” said Traci Bekier, 51, of Toledo.
Several Port Clinton residents said they have returned to the site daily, and each time it looks a little different.
Local schoolkids have gone ice-climbing the minute school has let out each day this week, while many others equate the gorgeous crystal reflections and bluish hues to a religious experience.
“It’s one of God’s great things for us,” said Barb Schumacher, 64, who drove over from Medina, Ohio, with her husband, John Schumacher, 65.
The floes were created Friday night when ice that had formed out on the lake got pushed and piled up along the shoreline during a frigid, windy blast.
According to reports, the ice was pushed so far it came up on West Lakeshore and forced the road to be closed for three hours that night, resulting in a voluntary evacuation for some residents.
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