The Blue Hole is a mysterious body of water in the middle of the woods in Winslow Township, South Jersey. Legends say that water is as clear as glass and as cold as a tomb, even in the summer. It is rumored to be bottomless and the home of the Jersey Devil. Other legends say that there are mysterious whirlpool currents that trap swimmers and drag them under, never to be found. I vowed to go see the Blue Hole for myself.
I mentioned it to my dad, who has lived in South Jersey all his life. Much to my surprise, he knew exactly what I was talking about. When he was a kid, growing up in Blue Anchor (part of Winslow), he and his friends would go swimming in the creek about a hundred feet from the Blue Hole. My dad was told never to go swimming in the Blue Hole because it was bottomless and freezing cold. Of course, my dad and his friends immediately had to try it. One jumped in, then climbed right out. The water was indeed freezing in the middle of summer. Another one of my fatherís friends did not escape as easily. He dove into the hole head first and broke his neck.
My dad (Master of Directions) knew exactly how to get there and save me ten minutes on the trip. I knew I needed a boat. Inskip Creek is about 100 before the hole. The cedar water is murky, swift and full of branches, so be careful if you're wading through it during the summer. I borrowed a boat from my friend Jim, who built it from plans he got out of a 1963 issue of Popular Mechanics. I called another friend, Russ, and convinced him to go. Taking my dad's pick up, we drove into the woods off Piney Hollow Road.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Pine Barrens, it's sandy and itís easy to get stuck. The road was well-packed most of the way, but there are two trouble spots that fill with water. You had to stop some distance away from the creek, as the sand becomes deep and soft the closer you get to the bank. Russ and I noticed three things immediately:
1) There were signs posted everywhere not to swim, hunt or light fires here.
2) There was evidence of campfires and parties everywhere.
3) There was the constant sound of gunfire in the distance.
Undeterred, we got Jim's boat into the water and crossed the creek where there were the remains of an old bridge. After getting to the other side and pulling up the boat, we walked about 100 feet, and on the left was the Blue Hole. The hole looked to be about 70 feet across and roughly circular. The edges appeared to be raised, which was consistent with one of the rumors I had read: that the Blue Hole was actually a bottomless crater left by an ancient meteorís impact. The bottom, at least on the edge, was only about a foot. The water had a strange, blue tinge. I took a sample of the water in an empty Frappucino bottle. I stuck my hand in. It was freezing. However, this was November and that was to be expected.
What wasn't expected was that the camera suddenly broke. Had we angered some invisible god by disturbing the peace of the tranquil lake? (Well, tranquil except for the continuing gunfire). We didn't know, but I was getting increasingly uneasy. It was time to leave. We'd have to return later and get the pictures for Weird NJ.
On the way out, I saw what looked like a large dog. When I was growing up and visiting my relatives in Winslow, they always told me to beware of the wild dogs in the area. That roving packs of wild dogs were known to attack unwary travelers and drag them into the woods to be devoured. I panicked, and nearly backed the truck into a tree trying to turn around.
I don't know how to explain the Blue Hole. Is it the hiding place of the Jersey Devil, or the bottomless impact crater of some prehistoric meteorite? How many lives has it claimed so far, and how many may still be lost in its icy depths? Why are its waters so clear and strangely blue, while a mere 100 feet away, the creek is as murky and dark as mud? All I know is, I still have the Frappucino bottle and weeks later, it is still algae free and still perfectly clear, unlike the mystery of the Blue Hole.
ĖStory, photos by Tony DiGerolamo
Edited by greattenchim, 12 July 2005 - 11:32 PM.