Is there a monster lurking in the waters of the Castle Rock quarry? When a mysterious weather balloon floats into Shoreham in The Happy Hollisters and the Castle Rock Mystery by Jerry West, Pete, Pam, Ricky, Holly, and Sue Hollister end up in an exciting adventure that brings them to a local rock quarry, where their enthusiastic search for valuable titanium is dampened by rumors of a creature in the water. While they find that the “monster” might not be as scary as it seems, the quarry itself presents plenty of danger—and teaching lessons for parents and kids about the dangers of playing near quarries.

A quarry is an open pit where rocks, sand, or other minerals are extracted from the ground. Quarries have been used for thousands of years; the ancient Egyptians used limestone and granite from quarries to build their iconic pyramids, while ancient Romans sourced quarries for marble. Even the marble used to carve Michelangelo’s famous David sculpture came from a quarry.

Once quarries are no longer in use, they fill up over time with rainwater, creating extremely deep artificial lakes. The water tends to be an inviting clear aqua color, caused by the low pH levels in the water which flush out clay and other particles that could otherwise muddy the water.

Quarry water is also known for its intense cold temperature, due to its depth and the presence of underwater springs that can add cooler groundwater to the accumulated rainwater.

A dip in a clear, cold quarry on a hot summer day might sound fun and refreshing, but unseen dangers often hide beneath the surface. Quarries can be filled with sharp rocks, rusty mining tools, submerged wires, and even toxic waste. Abandoned structural supports or dangerous equipment might be hidden in the water or in the areas surrounding it, as Ricky learns the scary way when he finds himself stranded high on a ledge after an old wooden staircase collapses. Yikes!

In the water, the unexpectedly cold temperatures can cause “cold shock.” This is when a swimmer’s skin temperature rapidly decreases, leading to issues like hyperventilation, involuntary gasping, limb weakness, and panic. If someone swallows water, goes into shock, or can’t use their limbs, it puts them at a dangerous risk of drowning. Even for healthy or strong swimmers, a quarry’s temperature and depth can present unexpected risks.

Though the Hollister children do find themselves in some slightly frightening situations while exploring Castle Rock Quarry, like Pam falling in the water or Ricky’s staircase mishap, the adults in their lives do warn them about the dangers of quarries, and they learn some valuable lessons about safety while solving a thrilling mystery. The Happy Hollisters and the Castle Rock Mystery can be a great steppingstone to a family discussion about swimming safety.

by Libby Svenson Kennedy


Research notes, Andrew Svenson Archives of The Hollister Family Properties Trust