GILBOA — Some people like to dive into the new year metaphorically, hoping to make it their best year yet. One group literally dove its way into 2020.
The Gilboa Quarry, in Putnam County, has been hosting a New Year’s Day event since its opening in 1990. An estimated 20 to 30 divers from around the country gathered at the quarry Wednesday to continue the tradition.
“There’s no better way to start the year than to be underwater,” said Chris Reed, an assistant instructor with Davey Bones Scuba Center in Barberton. Reed joined with quarry owner Mike Williams to help organize this year’s dive.
Like Reed, most of those in attendance are year-round and higher level divers who explore waters all over the world.
“There are very few people that dive this quarry locally. I mean, it’s less than a fraction of a percent. On a busy weekend, they’ll be people in here from 10 states and two countries,” Williams explained.
He recalled one guest from Australia who told him they talk about the Gilboa Quarry all the time back home.
“It’s because so clear,” Williams said as to why the quarry has become internationally known. “When people ask what we do to treat the water, I just say, ‘I pray about it.’”
“Haigh Quarry — which is a pretty big name facility in diving over in Illinois — I’ve had two people from their facility in here over the years trying to figure out what I’m doing,” Williams continued. “The last guy was in here for about a half an hour trying to figure out, and I said, ‘Actually there is something I do.’ All of a sudden, he thought he was going to get the holy grail, and I said, ‘I pray about this place and the people that come here and the water that’s in it, that’s the truth,’ and he was disappointed with that being my answer.”
There are several underwater attractions sunken into the quarry, including a Grumman Gulfstream twin-turboprop airplane, a Sikorsky helicopter, underground caves, platforms, tour wreckage and 60-foot tubes for exploring.
In addition to the clear waters and attractions, the quarry has become known for its depths. The more than 14-acre limestone quarry ranges from 5 to 130 feet. Haigh Quarry, in comparison, is 85 feet at its deepest.
“I do a lot of shipwreck diving in the Great Lakes,” said Jeremy Nussbaum, of Polk. “Being able to get to the depths of like 130 feet for practice is great. It just helps to keep the skills sharp, and it’s just a great place to come with the recreational side. I’ve seen everything that’s in this quarry, so it’s more kind of just watching the fish and enjoying my time underwater.”
Nussbaum has been coming to the quarry since 1996, but this was his first New Year’s Day dive in Gilboa.
In addition to diving, the quarry offers wooded campgrounds with campsites and snorkeling. Fishing and swimming are not permitted at any time.
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.