The Blue Hole

Castalia, Ohio, USA

Closed 1990 

The Disappointed Tourist: The Blue Hole, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

The Blue Hole is a freshwater pond located in Castalia, Erie County. It was a tourist attraction from the 1920s to 1990, at times attracting 165,000 visitors annually, who came to marvel at its bottomless appearance and the eerie blue color resulting from the many dissolved minerals in its water. The pond is fed by an underground stream and is anoxic due to its high mineral content. Its owner, the Castalia Trout Club, closed the Blue Hole to visitors in 1990 due to declining attendance and safety concerns. The painting is based on a rendering of the Blue Hole that hangs in the Castalia Trout Club’s fish hatchery that was published in Ideastream Public Media. Based on the clothing of the people in the original, it looks to show the Blue Hole as it was in the 1920s or 1930s.

I went here often with my family in the late 70’s and early 80’s, the water was incredibly blue, and the story was that no one knew how deep it was. We would go to imagine scuba divers and explorers swimming towards the bottom but never getting there. I was mystified by this place and a little bit afraid of it. When I was growing up there were so many tourist places sprinkled around the area. Lake Erie is right there, and you would have thought it was the ocean. Loads of small rentals along the water and a lot of family-oriented things to do/ places to visit. The Blue Hole was one of them. Stacy F.