Waite Park: Cannonballs and belly flops at the quarryby Marc Sanchez, Minnesota Public Radio
Waite Park, Minn. — St. Cloud earned the nickname "Granite City" in the late 1800's because the stone was so abundant in the area.
Mining crews dug deep -- creating quarries that remain today as evidence of their work.
In 1992, the city of Waite Park, just southwest of St. Cloud, purchased a granite quarry from Cold Spring Granite Co.
The quarry hadn't been used much since the 1950's and the land was beginning to revert to its natural state. The city thought the property seemed like a good addition to Stearns County's Quarry Park and Nature Preserve.
The site was already a favorite of mountain bikers, who had been sneaking on to the land for years.
When the park officially opened in 1998, one of the main attractions became Melrose Deep 7. That's the abandoned quarry where you'll find the swimming hole.
Ensconced by jutting pieces of worn granite, the water reaches depths of 116 feet. On a good day, you can see 20 feet down through the water.
On a hot day, it's not unusual to find 400 to 500 people lining the banks, swimming and diving in Melrose Deep 7. With yelps of joy and cannon ball splashes, kids fling themselves off 20 foot peaks into the the pool below.
There are a few tried and true places that one can safely jump from. Stearns County Park Director Chuck Wocken tells of accidents that happen every year. He suggests giving a thorough check of any spots you're thinking of jumping into before your first dive.
The park is host to 30 quarries in all. Some are zoned for fishing, some for scuba diving, but only one is strictly for swimming. Mountain bikers can now be on the up and up with their own technical zones. There are an abundance of trails ready for hiking and cross country skiing in the winter.