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Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Blue Hole

     Once upon a time, actually from the 1920s to 1990 the city of Castalia, Ohio, was home to the mysterious Blue Hole, which was a tourist attraction drawing over 165,000 visitors a year, for almost a century. It’s now off-limits to the public. 
     The Blue Hole is an artesian spring (water coming from underground) that’s about 40 feet in diameter. It’s water is void of oxygen, very clean, very clear and very high in iron and calcium. The water is cold...fluctuates between 48 and 54 degrees all year long. The water in the hole has great clarity and a vibrant blue hue. 
     It was sort of mysterious because it was said to be bottomless, but in reality it’s about 43 to 45 feet deep. The Blue Hole is fed by a passing underground stream which discharges 7 million gallons of water daily into Sandusky Bay to the north, feeding into Lake Erie. 
     The surrounding terrain is developed on limestone bedrock and exhibits karst topography due to dissolution of the limestone by ground water, creating water-filled sinkholes. 
     The Blue Hole was known to American Indians and was first recorded in history in 1761 and several similar blue holes are known to local residents. There is another hole similar in size with water that is an eerie bluish-green. 
     THE Blue Hole is located on the grounds of Castalia Trout Club while thoe “other” blue hole is owned by the Castalia State Fish Hatchery operated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and is open for public viewing. The private Castalia Trout Club was founded in 1890 and in its heyday the Blue Hole had picnic tables, lush vegetation, a concession stand and a gift shop that sold everything from postcards to wooden shot glasses. 
     It closed down in 1990, and like many things, you can blame it on the government. The government passed the Americans with Disabilities Act which forced the Blue Hole to have to upgrade a lot of facilities to accommodate the new law. With the Hole facing declining attendance, the financial outlay to upgrade the facilities to comply with the ADA (handicap accessibility) act simply was not feasible. 
     Another factor was that attendance was declining because the Hole had became less of a mystery and with Cedar Point Amusement Park nearby and other modern attractions being built nobody was interested in seeing the Blue Hole anymore. 
     However, the cold water is perfect for the club’s fish hatchery. They oxygenate the water and use it to incubate about 30,000 eggs a year, keeping the streams stocked for members who come from as far away as Oklahoma. 
     The “Other Blue Hole” is located at the back of the state fish hatchery which is down the road. In fact, it’s one of at least a half-dozen on private farms around the area. The holes have roots to the south in Bellevue, Ohio in the Seneca Caverns which are several stories deep and gets down to what is called the Mystery River which is part of an underground river system. 

     The state fish hatchery incubates about a half-million eggs each year to stock 70 different lakes and reservoirs throughout Ohio and is open to the public on weekdays. There’s actually a third Blue Hole that’s open to the public, but it’s less exotic...it’s a large duck pond in the center of town. Like the others, it contains no oxygen and because of the constant flow of water, it never freezes. 
     The Castalia Historical Society holds a raffle in April every year and 20 winners get to visit the Castalia Trout Club and see the original Blue Hole.
     I have a confession to make...I saw The Blue Hole back in the 1950s and didn't find it all that impressive...it was just a small blue pond with water flowing out of it into a small stream with some small fish swimming around in it.

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