Sculptor created visions of Duluth in ice


Austrian sculptor Engelbert Hattenberger with one of his ice creations in front of Duluth City Hall
in January 1986. (File / News Tribune)

The News Tribune received word recently that an old friend of Duluth has died.
Engelbert Hattenberger, an Austrian ice carver who did work in Duluth and around the world, died July 17 in East Tirol, Austria, said Dave Sherek of Biwabik. Hattenberger was 89.
Sherek said he met Hattenberger in 1989, when the sculptor carved a replica of the Aerial Lift Bridge in front of Duluth City Hall.


Engelbert Hattenberger created this ice sculpture of an ore carrier passing under the Aerial Lift Bridge in January 1989. At the time, he had been making ice sculptures here for four years. (File / News Tribune)

According to News Tribune archives, Hattenberger had been doing ice sculptures around the Northland since about 1980. An article from February of that year talks about his work for the American Birkebeiner ski marathon in Cable, Wis., where he crafted a sculpture in front of the Telemark Lodge.


Engelbert Hattenberger’s 30-foot sculpture in front of the Telemark Lodge in Cable, Wis, includes an Olympic torch-bearer, a female ski racer holding a trophy cup and wreath, two more skiers and a symbol for the 1980 Winter Olympics and the 1980 American Birkebeiner race. (File / News Tribune)

Hattenberger turned to sculpting when he returned to Austria after World War II. A 1988 News Tribune article said he was left broke and unemployed. Hattenberger had been a sculptor of wood and metal before the war, but those materials became too expensive. So, he started using ice. 

As for his reasons, Hattenberger said, "Snow was very cheap. It’s simple: God sent the snow; I made something of it."

Below are images of Hattenberger in action.


Engelbert Hattenberger makes a cut in his sculpture in front of the Duluth Civic Center
so he can fit in another block. (1987 file / News Tribune)


Ice sculptor Engelbert Hattenberger and his son, Hannes, finish their work
on the Coporate Seal of the city of Duluth in front of the Civic Center. (1986 file / News Tribune)

Another sculpture in 1988 featured the continents of North America and Europe, with markers indicating Duluth and Hattenberger’s hometown of Lienz, Austria.


(1988 file / News Tribune)

Does anyone remember seeing Hattenberger’s ice sculptures? Read more about his Aerial Lift Bridge creation below.

3 thoughts on “Sculptor created visions of Duluth in ice

  1. We are sorry to hear of Mr Hattenberger’s passing. I met him in 1987 in Lienz, we talked for 2 hours while our spouses were busy, the last time we talked with him was 88 or89. We used to correspond at Christmas. He was a very nice gentleman and very gracious. Blessings to his family
    Dorothy Rush
    Foresthill, Ca.

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