MONTAGUE, Mich. — Erosion along Lake Michigan pulled a 100-year-old cottage over the bluff on New Year's Eve and it's been resting on the water ever since.
Thursday workers with heavy machinery needed to remove the cottage piece-by-piece from its resting place just feet above building waves.
"It has to be relatively calm out there," said Leon Koehler from White Lake Dock & Dredge. "We can't work in four or five foot waves."
Koehler and other workers reached the job site just north of the White Lake Channel at the end of Ferry Street west of North Old Channel Trail.
The owner of the cottage, Patricia Gancer, said she's tried everything to save her home. She and some neighbors hired a contractor to build a rock revetment along the shoreline. The cottage has been in her family since the 1930s.
"We just ran out of time," Gancer said.
White Lake Dock & Dredge has years of experience working at job sites in and around water. Thursday some of the company's equipment was several feet into Lake Michigan as the waves crashed.
It's the first time the company has been called on to pluck pieces of a cottage off a bluff.
"The erosion just took out everything underneath it," Koehler said. "It's unfortunate for her and her family to lose it, it's not just a cottage but it's memories and something that's been in their family."
The cottage was expected to fill six or more large dumpsters which were pulled from the site one after another filled with windows, doors, beds, and other furniture.
"It was full, as if somebody was ready to come in and live in it in the summertime," Koehler said.
In the same area, two other cottages are also dangerously close to the edge of the bluff, a third now has protection from a new rock revetment finished in recent days.
"We're going to save that one," Koehler said.
Work removing the cottage was expected to finish Thursday evening or Friday.
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