Post by Joanna on Jan 30, 2015 19:07:07 GMT -5
New Jersey's Mysterious Blue Hole
One of the most storied sites in all of southern New Jersey is a mysterious body of water known as the Blue Hole. Located deep in the Pine Barrens of Winslow on the border of Camden and Gloucester counties, this small but legendary pool is said be not only bottomless, but also a frequent pit stop of the Jersey Devil, hence it's other name: “The Devil’s Bathtub.”
Though its icy blue-tinged water might seem inviting, especially on a hot summer day, locals warn their children to stay away from the Blue Hole and never swim there. Tales of unexplained whirlpools that suck down hapless swimmers have long been part of the Hole’s lore. Some who have been lucky enough to escape its clutches have claimed they actually felt something, perhaps the Jersey Devil himself, pulling them down into the chilly depths.
The bottom of the Blue Hole, if indeed there is a bottom, is said to be made of a fine sand, sometimes referred to as “sugar sand,” which locals liken to quicksand. When we visited the notorious Hole, we found ourselves navigating through narrow Pineland trails made up of this same treacherous sand. Sure that at any moment our Jeep would get hopelessly bogged down, we decided to ditch the vehicle and continue our quest on foot.
It was a beautiful autumn day as we wandered the wooded paths of the Winslow Wildlife Management Area. The underbrush was awash with bright cranberry-red and golden colored leaves, and the sounds of chirping birds filled the sweet-smelling air. But as we approached the Blue Hole, the atmosphere seemed to change. Birds were heard no more and in their stead was an eerie silence. The quiet was soon shattered however, by the echoes of shotgun blasts from a nearby firing range that rang through the tranquil forest.
The surface of the Blue Hole was as still as glass and a thermometer that we’d brought to measure its temperature read a chilly 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Although the water was crystal clear, we could see no signs of life whatsoever in the Hole: no fish, no insects – nothing. There was something unsettling about this void and suddenly it seemed easy to imagine why people might warn their children not to venture into these waters.
Although it might have a bad reputation now, this was not always the case with the Blue Hole. In the 1930s, the site was a popular picnic spot and swimming hole with the locals. In the 1940s though, a storm washed out a wooden bridge over the nearby Egg Harbor River, cutting off the main access route to the Blue Hole. Ever since, it has remained isolated in a dense forest of scrub pines, accessible only by foot or off-road vehicle. The Blue Hole is approximately 130 feet across, almost perfectly round and the banks are steep. Its waters remain curiously cold, even in the hottest summer months, averaging about 58 degrees. Unlike most bodies of water in the Pine Barrens, which bear a brownish coloration similar to tea because of the high content of iron, tannic acid and suspended sediment, the water of the Blue Hole is perfectly clear.
There are several theories as to how the Blue Hole came to be. Some say it is the result of a meteorite striking the Earth. Others claim it is what geologists call a pingo, a small body of water resulting from an ice mass that forms beneath permanently frozen soil during an ice age. The ice mass expands for thousands of years, then breaks through the permafrost to create a depression rimmed by a hill. As the climate warms, the ice melts, forming a pool.
But what about the fabled whirlpools – called “whirlypools” by locals – which are said to drag down unsuspecting swimmers to watery graves? How could such a current exist in such a seemingly placid body of water? One explanation might be that the Blue Hole is fed by ground water, not the nearby stream, which accounts for the fact the water does not contain the same murky color as the river and might also account for mysterious surges of current. But scientific rationale does little to lessen the mysteries of this curious body of water, which seem to run as deep as the Blue Hole itself.
Source: The South Jersey Courier-Post, January 29, 2015.
See also “200 Years of Jersey Devil Encounters”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/4901/200-years-jersey-devil-encounters