PELLA, Iowa – It’s a 14-foot-tall lighthouse made of snow. It’s also a teaching tool, a fundraiser and a traffic stopper on University Street in Pella.

For several years now the Wiersmas have built snow forts, each year’s version larger than the previous one. That progression has led to the lighthouse that sits in their yard and has been the subject of countless photos and lots of questions from passersby.

Dad Nolan Wiersma explains the process as making bricks by packing snow into bins then stacking them, packing more snow between the bricks and spraying the structure with water to further harden the structure. The walkway and rails called for forms made of wood and PVC pipe. Complete with a spiral staircase, the lighthouse keepers have access to that walkway from the inside. Son Isaac, who is 5 1/2, is proud of the ice TV and couch on the first floor.

Katie Wiersma points out they are teaching their kids that hard work results in the fun and recognition they’ve enjoyed during this cold spell. They are also taking the opportunity to ask people who enjoy the lighthouse to take an additional step and donate to livingwaterwells.org. Katie’s Facebook page has more information as well as more pictures and video.

Nolan acknowledged the work 10-year-old daughter Alaina did on the snow fort, working to the point she fell asleep one night still in the clothes she wore working. And while daughter Ellery and son Isaac play more than they work, they have both learned from the experience.

Katie adds, “It’s fun to see it completed and that it can be more than just a cool fort.”