Just what is at the bottom of Tenino’s quarry pool has been a mystery for generations, but earlier this month, a dive team tried to get to the bottom of it.
The team was led by Tenino Mayor Wayne Fornier, who donned scuba gear and took the plunge Aug. 17. The dive was filmed for an episode of KING-5’s Evening magazine that aired Monday.
Fornier told the station: “We want to find out what’s down there. It’s been a mystery; there's been a lot of myth and lore surrounding it.”
Despite limited visibility, the team discovered what it believes is a large steam engine used for mining, which Fournier said he hopes to one day put in a museum. Divers also reported seeing tree branches, huge crayfish, old glass bottles filled with sludge, and cables that were once attached to equipment that moved stones.
The dive provides some historical perspective on the quarry, that has been around for almost 130 years.
The Chronicle in Centralia reports sandstone was discovered in Tenino by George VanTine and Wes Fenton in 1888. The pair, along with Charles Billings, formed what would become the Tenino Stone Co., and the first shipment of Tenino stone was made the next year.
The town grew around the quarry, but production slowed after World War I as stone gave way to cheaper concrete. The quarry closed in 1926 and eventually flooded.
For years, locals would sneak in for a swim. The city of Tenino bought the quarry in 1946 and opened the Tenino Quarry Pool in 1950, according to the newspaper.
Thurston Talk wrote about other dives rumored to have happened there — one in the 1960s “by a lone diver who did it on a lark,” another in the 1980s. When a local woman went missing eight years ago, a crew searched the quarry pool but found nothing, according to the site.
This was the first time sonar was used to scan the pool. KING-5 reports the team is now planning more dives and perhaps some recovery efforts.