The Quarry Swim Club, located just outside of Hopewell Borough, is both a historic relic of the town and a popular summer gathering place for residents and visitors alike. The rock that now takes the shape of a swimming hole was first mined in the early 1900s. Miners carved a deep hole in the hillside and continuously pumped out water emerging from underground springs until 1916, when the mining company filed for bankruptcy and ceased operation. Without the miners, the rocky hole began to fill up with water from the springs, accumulating a depth of nearly 55 feet and creating a remarkable swimming location that would be enjoyed for over a century to come.
In the first few years, local children took advantage of the natural summer retreat that had appeared in their own backyard, climbing over the surrounding fence to go for a relaxing summer swim. Due to the spot’s growing popularity, the owners began to charge admission fees, thus marking the official start of the Quarry Swim Club in 1928. Throughout the years to follow, the club hosted numerous events and introduced amenities such as dressing rooms, an in-ground swimming pool, and a snack shack.
When the beloved community resource was put up for sale in 2014 by its long-time owners Jim and Nancy Gypton, residents formed a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation to fend against the prospect of a private development. The Friends of Hopewell Quarry (“FOHQ”) is a relatively small group of local residents who love the Quarry and are committed to preserving it for others to enjoy. FOHQ, with additional community support, engaged in more than five years of negotiations with the former owners before closing on the sale August 2, 2021. In addition to a change in ownership, the quarry land is also now preserved under the NJDEP Green Acres program. The group expects to receive additional funding from the State of New Jersey, as well as possible contributions from Mercer County and other municipalities.
Although the club is under new ownership, its look and feel will remain nearly unchanged from previous years. FOHQ recognizes the historical importance of the site and the “step back in time” that it provides visitors during the summer months. The group expects to continue providing the current amenities and features that have been present within the club, with the possibility of adding a few expanded amenities to further improve the Quarry experience for visitors. Possible additions include showers, hot running water, and improved kitchen offerings (that may be provided by local food vendors). The club will still feature swimming lessons, volleyball, barbecue grills, and picnic tables.
The specific fee structure of the club has not yet been determined by FOHQ, although estimates have been made in terms of available options for guests. FOHQ states that “in keeping with our commitment to ‘public access’, we expect the choices for admission will be somewhat more flexible than the fees have been in the recent past.” This will likely consist of a menu of options that range from single day passes to full season passes, in addition to the possibility of a system that would allow for advance online reservations to be made.
Despite being closed for general repairs and maintenance throughout the 2021 season, FOHQ expects to be fully open for the 2022 season, beginning around Memorial Day. The Club recently opened to the public for a special sneak peek tour on Saturday, October 23, between 12 and 3pm. At that event, FOHQ members announced the possible upgrades and plans for continued preservation to the public audience. Suggestions from the public were also accepted on the tour.
The re-emergence of the historic swim club in the upcoming year will surely allow visitors to take a deep dive into summer fun!
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