Sunday, July 13, 2008

That Magical Place: The Blue Hole

Blue Hole by Ernst Niebergall

If you grew up in northern Ohio during the 40s and 50s, chances are you made a trip to the Blue Hole near Castalia. I know I did. In fact, I recall passing through the impressive tufa rock entrance many times as we made our way to that fascinating natural phenomenon.

In my mind’s eye, I can still see myself as a child, bending over the rail of the rustic foot bridge. Mesmerized by the encrusted stumps and vegetation, I would peer deeply into the quiet blue-green waters of that “spring without a bottom.” With the vivid imagination of a child, I often wondered if it went all the way to China. What would happen if I fell in? Would I disappear forever like the farmer with his wagon and team of horses? Even though I later learned that the story was the stuff of legend, I am still certain that one time I saw a wagon wheel far below the Blue Hole’s quiet surface!

Blue Hole by Ernst Niebergall

I wasn’t the only one who found the Blue Hole a magical place. Long before Ohio was Ohio, the Wyandots believed the clear, cold waters held curative powers. And in 1761, when Major Robert Rogers first recorded the discovery of springs surrounding the Blue Hole, he called it a “remarkable fine spring.”

Years passed before I discovered that my mysterious Blue Hole was in fact a funnel-shaped sink hole created when pioneer Dorastus Snow built a grist mill and dam on Cold Creek in 1810. Water pooled, causing the collapse of strata in the area of the Blue Hole, allowing water to “spring” through to the opening.

The spring puts forth an estimated 450,000 gallons of water every hour! The water’s constant temperature of 48 degrees prevents the Blue Hole from ever freezing. Its color comes from its mineral content - potassium, magnesium, lime, soda and iron. Without oxygen, nothing grows in the enchanting pool of water that today measures 75 feet in diameter.

Owned by the Castalia Trout Club, the Blue Hole opened as a tourist attraction in 1925. Improved with fences, footbridges, walkways, and benches, “Ohio’s Greatest Natural Wonder” attracted an estimated 150,000 visitors annually during its heyday. On sunny days, visitors could see to a depth of 50 to 60 feet below the surface. The sun illuminated the openings through which water surged from the underground streams. After more than six decades, interest in the Blue Hole began to wane. In 1990, the Castalia Trout Club closed it to the public.

Whenever I grow nostalgic for those long-ago visits to the Blue Hole, I look at the photographs Ernst Niebergall took around 1910. They are now preserved in the Charles E. Frohman Collection at the Hayes Presidential Center. I see the Blue Hole in its natural setting, but it is one that I never knew. Now thanks to Glenn Kuebeler, I can enjoy Niebergall’s photos and many others that do depict the Blue Hole just as I remember it. Pick up Glenn’s book, “Castalia, Cold Creek, and the Blue Hole.” You will enjoy a memorable journey back to that magical Blue Hole of our past!
[This post was first published in "History Notebook" in Lifestyles2000]

1 comment:

Sandusky Library said...

Excellent entry about the Blue Hole!!

From the library staff at
Sandusky Library