EAGLES MERE - In the late 1800s and early 1900s, workers cut blocks of ice from Eagles Mere Lake in Eagles Mere in the winter and stored them covered in sawdust in pits so that they could be used in the hotels that community in the summer.

Then someone got the bright idea of constructing a toboggan slide out of blocks of ice from the lake, which was done for the first time in 1904.

The toboggan slide has been built each year since then in Eagles Mere, weather permitting.

So say organizers of the toboggan slide, which was under construction on Saturday and which may open today.

The slide, which is a quarter-mile long, is made out of 850 blocks of ice, each weighing about 300 pounds, said John Huhn, treasurer of the Eagles Mere Firemen's Relief Association and Charlie Gardner, secretary of the Eagles Mere Slide Association.

Tobogganers reach speeds of 35 to 40 mph at the bottom of the slide, which ends on the ice-covered surface of the lake, said Brian Smith, chief of the Eagles Mere Fire Company. At the end of the slide, the toboggans continue over the ice-covered surface of the lake.

Organizers are pretty sure that the Eagles Mere slide is the only toboggan slide in North America that is built out of blocks of ice from a lake, Gardner said.

"If you've never ridden it, you need to at least once in your life!" said Sullivan County Treasurer Kathy Robbins, who was one of more than 50 volunteers who were building the slide on Saturday.

"When we built it last year, it was 18 degrees below zero," Robbins said. "We nearly froze to death to build it."

Compared to last year, this year "it was a joy to build it."

The toboggan slide "is run by the Eagles Mere Slide Association entirely to benefit the fire companies in Sullivan County," Garner said. The Eagles Mere Slide Association is a non-profit organization, he said.

All toboggans used at the site must be rented from the Slide Association, Smith said. The Slide Association has 55 toboggans on site to rent to the public.

A toboggan that seats 6 adults rents for $15 per hour.

A toboggan that seats 8 adults rents for $20 per hour.

With small children on board, the toboggans can seat even more people, Smith said.

"A toboggan that 8 adults might seat 10 people if you have a couple of small kids," he said.

People who rent the toboggans are guaranteed at least two rides on the slide, Smith said.

"A lot of times (due to lines) they won't get to go within an hour, but we guarantee at least two rides," he said.

The toboggan slide is open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Smith said he hoped to have the slide in operation by 1 p.m. today.

To find out if the slide is open, call (570) 525-3244, or go to www.eaglesmere.org.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com