o when I was so much younger and living in my hometown of Hamburg, there were a number of times that I wanted to go swimming at the Hamburg Park where the swimming pool was located. There was always a small problem about getting in, because my Mother just didn’t have the money to pay the entrance fee of .50 cents. Does not seem like a whole lot of money, but back in the middle 50’s it was. So, when Mom could not afford to give me the money, I found out about another place to go swimming and it never cost anything, besides using the old Union Canal. Up in Port Clinton not from from Hamburg, was a swimming hole made by the River over time. It was always free to use, regardless of having to put up with coal dirt. There were even some rapids to have fun in. The swimming hole was a deep pool formed from the River water under a very high & large rock. This is where the place got it’s name . . . The Rock.
The Rock has been here for a long time and became a very popular place to take a nice swim & cost you nothing. This is also the place where I taught myself to swim. The story is that one day, my Uncle just picked me up and threw me in the water! I had to sink or swim! Of course, he was there just in case I faltered. I learned to swim pretty much at the exact spot you see in the picture. I hasn’t changed in all the years. The water was cold, but you got used to it. Every time I got on my bicycle to pedal up here, Mom used to tell me to be careful. I never knew why she always said that until later on. The place has some hidden danger that I didn’t know about.
The part of the Rock that I have out-lined in white is a part of Rock that you could climb up to, jump or dive off. It was a small climb up to the flat spot and jump in. It was only about 20 ft. high. I did it many, many times. Never had a problem. However, the highest portion that you see is a bit more than 50 ft. high! I never, ever jumped off that thing. Too darn high. It can hurt you!
Now, right under the high Rock where you see the splash, there is a hidden cave that can’t be seen unless you dive down under the water and take a look. I stayed out of there. Nothing for me down there, so I left well enough alone. However, one kid didn’t. He wanted to go in that cave. He did. Never came back out! He drowned! I never knew who he was.
Over time, this place was used on & on. Never any problems until about 3 yrs. ago. It was during a very hot spell we had during the Summer. Temp. were up in the high 90’s. It was a bit stifling, to say the least. As time went by, the Rock became a very popular place to swim & have a good time. People were coming in droves. Even people from out of State came here. Parking was getting to be a real problem alongside the road. Police tried to control it, but never could until later on.
During that hot spell, the Rock got very full. Mostly the younger generation. Seemed that everyone was there! One day 2 kids from where I don’t know, jumped off the highest part, hit the water wrong and drowned!! 2 of them on the same day! The Fire & Rescue from Hamburg could not get there in time because of all the traffic. When they did, Rescue personnel pulled 2 bodies from the water.
People were even doing camping here. Setting up their tents, using portable generators for light, leaving beer, whiskey bottles, used condoms, and soda cans. They were turning this long used place into a junk yard! Fires were just left as they were! The place was being ruined!
After a short time, the Hamburg Council decided to stop this before more lives were lost. The whole area what shut down. Signs were placed every where to “Keep Out” “Restricted Area”, etc. Now, after all these years, you can’t get in there anymore or you’ll be put in jail or fined. Maybe both. I’m not happy about this. A place that I’ve known for so long was ruined by dumb people that messed it up. People just don’t think. But, I know how to get in there and no one would ever know!
Thanks for reading.