Whitefish Lake Institute Watches Rock

By Beacon Staff

Like something from Lake Woebegon, Whitefish folks are watching a rock. It sits on ice that will melt sometime in the next two months.

The status of the rock is more than just passing amusement. Whitefish Lake Institute placed the rock on the ice in front of The Lodge at Whitefish Lake as a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization that studies local water quality. It’s there to be wagered on.

The big question is: when will the rock fall through the ice?

The rock shaped roughly like the state of Montana is about two-feet wide by three-feet long by three inches deep. “It’s heavy. It took three guys to move it,” explains Mike Koopal, Executive Director for the institute. “That was big enough.” At its weight, it won’t require the ice to melt completely for it to drop.

To predict the day the rock drops, some may calculate the physics involved. But most just haphazard a guess. “We’re playing off an old Whitefish tradition,” says Koopal. “We wanted to resurrect it and create awareness for Whitefish Lake during winter months when people aren’t really thinking about the lake.”

Tickets for guessing are on sale at $10 each through March at the lodge’s restaurant and bar. You can even check the large hanging calendar there to see what days are popular picks. The institute will split the pot with the winner. If more than one person picks the winning day, winners will go into a hat to draw first prize. The lodge has donated two night accommodations as a second prize, with all remaining names in the hat to be awarded beer.

The institute collects scientific data about the lake that can be used by decision makers, and it also provides community education. “It will be good to start getting new data on when ice comes off the lake and years when it hasn’t frozen,” says Koopal. “But the rock is Whitefish really soft science and more for awareness.”