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Blue Hole (Santa Rosa, NM)

Blue Hole
~ Santa Rosa, New Mexico
~ http://santarosabluehole.com/ ~

In the middle of the New Mexican northeastern desert is a aqua dark blue oasis called the “Blue Hole”. It was also once called “Blue Lake” or “Aqua Negra Chiquita” as one of the seven sister lakes connected underground by a vast network of water sources that gives Santa Rosa its reputation of being a city of natural lakes. These are all part of the Santa Rosa sink – a popular watering hole, recreation spot, and tourism along historic Route 66 and old settlement days. The Sink became a National fish hatchery in 1932 and by the 1970’s became a Recreation Area and morphed into the Blue Hole Dive and Conference Center. It is a source of clear pure water that is a treasured natural resource – with 100′ visibility as the water continually renews itself ever six hours with a constant 62 degrees Fahrenheit and a constant inflow of over 3,000 gallons per minute. The surface is 80′ wide and expands to 130 feet diameter at the bottom. A circular bell shaped pool that is a spring and a sinkhole in one. As Santa Rosa is at a elevation of 4,616 feet above sea level, divers training in the Blue Hole have to use high-altitude dive tables to computer their profile and decompression stops while diving. Swimmers, cliff jumpers, and bathers enter above for free with sometimes no lifequards present.

The Blue Hole has claimed many lives which has forced the City to place a grate over the cave entrance at the bottom for safety. Even when they have opened the grate for expert divers to go in and map the caves, death was often the end result. March 26, 2016 – 43 year old expert California cave diver Shane Thompson became trapped and drowned while exploring the passageways. According to the Albuerqueque Journal in March 1976 two divers within a group of 10 university students were diving together and 21 year old David Gregg and 22 year old Mike Godard didn’t resurface and lost their lives in the caves. After multiple rescue dives, their bodies recovered. In 1979 it happened again, two other divers got lost and died in the caves, bodies recovered after multiple dives. This led to the closing of the entrance. There is a 1960’s-1970’s urban legend of another diver who got lost, and his body never recovered in the Blue Hole. Legend states his body was found naked and scraped up in Lake Michigan that somehow the Blue Hole and Lake Michigan was connected via underground caves and tunnels. However since all the other bodies were quickly recovered and scientists state its impossible for the tunnels to connect to the Great Lakes not only because of geology but a need for a continuous rock stratum to support such caves. There is also the impassible hydrological barrier of the Mississippi River that acts as a giant collection system not only moving surface water to the Ocean, but subsurface water to. The body would have to swim upstream to get to the Great Lakes.

Map of Blue Hole: http://santarosabluehole.com/map/santarosamap4000.pdf

Additional Reading:

  • According to Leanne 2012 “Diver deaths spawn rumors of underground waterway” website referenced 7/11/18 at https://accordingtoleanne.com/2012/12/06/diver-deaths-spawn-rumors-of-underground-waterway/.
  • NY Daily News u.d. “Expert diver died after getting trapped overnight navigating the dangerous Blue Hole caverns in New Mexico: ‘Everything went terribly wrong’ website refereced on 7/11/18 at http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/expert-diver-dies-blue-hole-caverns-new-mexico-article-1.2586285

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions, visited 6/26/2018. ~

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Santa Rosa, NM

Santa Rosa, New Mexico

The City of Natural Lakes in Guadalupe County, New Mexico – this city is a Route 66 tourist destination, especially for it’s Blue Hole and recreational activities. It is a relatively small town, with approximately 2,848 residents according to the 2010 Census. It is located at the intersection of I-40, Route 54, and U.S. Route 84 in between Albuquerque and Tucumcari along the Pecos River. In the Northeastern part of the state, the city is west of the staked planes of Eastern New Mexico and west Texas.

The first Euro-American settlement was “Little Black Water” or Aqua Negra Chiquita in 1865 and later changed in 1890 to Santa Rosa after the chapel that Don Celso Baca the city’s founder built and named after Saint Rose o Lima and his mother Rosa. The name also may refer to the roses in the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Catholicism of the Spanish colonizers who settled here. The area became pouplar in 1902 with the building of the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad went through there and the Northeastern Railway from the southwest. The east-west highway through town was Highway 66 in 1926 making it a popular rest stop with motels and cafes. The city was a scene in John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath” and the movie filmed by John Ford for the infamous train scene as well as shooting scenes for Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw.

Santa Rosa has numerous natural lakes which is odd for the dry desert climate making it an oasis of sorts. Numerous sinkholes have formed in the limestone bedrock of the area and filled with water all connected by a network of underground water filled tunnels making it a popular cave diving and scuba training location. The most famous of the sinkholes is the “Blue Hole” which stays cool year round at 61 °F (16 °C) water forms a lake over 81 feet (25 m) deep.

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