Frigid weather grows Popple Dungeon sculpture

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2022 Telegraph Publishing LLC

While the recent cold snap has frozen pipes, drained heating fuel tanks and put deep dents into wood piles, there’s one bright side to the frigid weather. Peter Delaney’s annual ice sculpture is growing fast on his Chester property.

Just a couple of weeks ago the frame under the sculpture was bare with broken chunks of ice at its base. But what a difference today Photos by Shawn Cunningham unless otherwise noted

At the beginning of the season, the mild weather kept melting away whatever had grown on the structure that Delaney puts up every year. But with colder weather, this year’s model looks to rival some of the monsters of the past. See gallery at the bottom of this story.

Every year in the late fall, Delaney builds a tall wooden framework to mount a garden hose that’s fed by a spring up in the hills beside his Popple Dungeon Road home. He caps the hose, then drills five small holes in the cap to create a fine spray.

When the temperatures drop, Delaney opens the spigot and gravity sends the thin sprays shooting into the air and an ice sculpture begins to take form. The spray continues day and night. And the shape is then left to Mother Nature.

Most years, the sculpture is a bit abstract with various shades of blue.  But in 2019 the weather created a complex form that looks almost human, with a cape and crown-like top where the spouts made their own ice pipes.

According to Delaney, those spouts sometimes freeze and the water continues to run inside the ice, etching out paths within the sculpture.

As majestic as it looks today, spring is coming and before you know it, this season’s sculpture will be a memory. Delaney expects that the column’s thaw in the spring will be gradual with the surrounding soil absorbing the water. But in the event of an unusually warm spring, he has a drain to channel the water away.

While it lasts, you can see it on Popple Dungeon Road, 2 miles up from the Grafton Road. Sunny days are best. Click any imagine to launch the gallery.

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  1. Sandy Black says:

    This is awesome!!