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New Jersey Scuba Diving


New Jersey Scuba Diving

Dutch Springs Quarry - Bethlehem, PA

New Jersey Reefs

Dutch Springs Map
Dutch Springs contains many interesting artificial reefs for divers to explore. In fact, even the hole itself is man-made - it is an old limestone quarry.

flooded limestone quarry with platforms, walls, artificial reefs, helicopter
shoreline to over 100 ft, but most activity is conducted at 25-40 ft

Dutch Springs
Welcome to the beautiful Quarr-ibean !

Thanks to the tireless filtering of the Zebra Mussels that have invaded the quarry, Dutch Springs has actually become a rather nice place to dive. The impenetrable murk that was once the hallmark of quarry diving has given way to 30 foot viz, with upwards of 50 ft on good days. If you stop and watch one for a while, you can actually see it sucking in dirt and particles and ejecting clean water.

An added benefit of the clearer water is that sunlight penetrates the quarry to a greater depth, warming the deeper sections that once remained near freezing year-round. There is still a thermocline around 40 ft, but it is mild compared to what it once was. Without the strong stratification, much more oxygen will also reach the lower depths. Eventually, these conditions will allow the growth of plants across the bottom of the quarry, Dutch Springsproviding food and habitat for fish and other creatures. The growth of such plants will further deplete the nutrients that the planktonic green algea feed upon, and as the planktonic algea dies off, the water will become clearer still. Zebra Mussels are the best thing that ever happened to Dutch Springs.

Dutch Springs is generally used for training dives and equipment check-outs, for which the shore facilities, underwater platforms, easy entry, and controlled conditions make it ideal. Chances are, if you were certified to dive in this area, you've been to Dutch Springs.

Not marked on the charts: Ralph Cifaretto, former Soprano family capo, 2002. Sleeps with the fishes.

Dutch Springs Zebra Mussels
Zebra Mussels growing underneath one of the platforms

Dutch Springs Aerial

Dutch Springs Aerial
Winter aerial view, with ice in the coves and the factory at lower right.

Dutch Springs Platform
Dutch Springs PlatformDutch Springs Platform
A number of wooden platforms provide training areas at about 25 ft. The trout are usually wary of divers, but cold water and reduced winter food supplies seems to make them more approachable.

Dutch Springs Fire Engine
Dutch Springs Fire EngineDutch Springs Fire Engine
The fire engine, in about 30 ft of water, is often visited on training dives, and is usually home to a school of friendly Sunnies.

Dutch Springs Sunfish
Pumpkinseed Sunfish

Dutch Springs Sunfish
Redbreast Sunfish

Dutch Springs Boat
A sunken boat near the fire truck.

Dutch Springs School Bus

The school bus can be reached by following a long line from the fire engine or a shorter line from the training platforms.

Dutch Springs Silver Comet
The Silver Comet

Dutch Springs CessnaDutch Springs Cessna
The Cessna on the "island" is one of the oldest attractions in the quarry, and got quite broken down and was eventually replaced.

Dutch Springs Cessna
2004 - the old Cessna was replaced by a "new" Cessna 150. The old one was moved to a secure undisclosed location.

Dutch Springs Island
The top of the "island" is home to a school of Sunfish, when it is under water

Dutch Springs Ladder Truck
The ladder truck - 60 feet

Dutch Springs Tanker Truck
The tanker truck - 70 feet, dark and cold

Dutch Springs Dynamite Shack
The dynamite shack, near the back wall ( see below )

Dutch Springs Dynamite Bunker
A sandbag bunker near the dynamite shack

Dutch Springs Stairs
Dutch Springs Walkway
Dutch Springs Frames
Stairs, railings, and ironwork in the west cove

Dutch Springs Helicopter
The enormous Sikorsky S-56 helicopter is the centerpiece of the entire facility, and merits its own entry. Click here for details on the helicopter.

Dutch Springs Bass
The bass at Dutch Springs are incredibly tame, and fun to play with.

Dutch Springs Feeding Fish
They are accustomed to divers finding crayfish for them under the rocks.

Dutch Springs Crayfish

Dutch Springs Crayfish
The bass will eat them right from your fingers ( although this is kind of rough on the crayfish. )

Dutch Springs Feeding Fish
Brenda doesn't actually have anything in her hand here. Moments later, the big one bit her finger !

Dutch Springs Trout

Dutch Springs Salamander
These tiny larval salamanders hide in the gravel. About 2 inches long, and fairly common once you know what to look for.

For More Advanced Divers:

There are a number of interesting sites along the south wall of the quarry that date to before it was Dutch Springs:

To get to the dynamite shack, enter from the peninsula side, and surface swim to the west end of the island. Submerge ( you can descend around the crane ), and swim to the back side of the island. The first tree you encounter, which should be in approximately 35-45 ft of water, is the starting marker. Find the tree, set your compass to 200 degrees, and follow it to the dynamite shack.

On the way out, you'll pass over a fairly unremarkable flat area, followed by a small drop off. After crossing the drop off, you'll find what looks like an old road bed. On this, you should find the dynamite shack, and then, turning right (west) along the wall, a telephone pole and a square "bunker". Beyond that, by following the north edge of the road you'll find the hole, which is not marked on the Dutch Springs guide slate.

Be warned, this area is not for the newly certified diver. It's deep - 100 ft - dark, and cold. Not to mention it's quite a ways from shore. If you venture into the hole, don't expect to see much. Every time I've been there, there's always been a swirling silt cloud at the bottom reducing visibility to nothing. You know you've found it when the ledge you follow comes to a point. You can usually see the quarry bottom on your right, and to the left it will drop off into "nothing", with what looks like an old steel cable leading down.

If you follow the wall either east or west from the dynamite shack, you'll also encounter the cars that were dumped in before the current owner bought the place in the 70's. So far, we have come across 2 cars to the east, and two cars and two vans to the west, in the far southwest corner of the lake. To the west, you'll be deep ( beyond 90 ft ) the entire time if you stay near the bottom, so watch that gas supply ! Don't run low here, it's a LONG surface swim you really don't want to make.

-- from someone that obviously knows his way around

Dutch Springs

Dutch Springs Sunset

Dutch Springs

Dutch Springs Old Photo

Fresh Water Fun in Pennsylvania

by Pete Nawrocky

Imagine making a dive in clear water with no tides, currents, or waves ...

Visiting structures underwater that are specifically there for your enjoyment ...

Photographing fish that are bright orange or green that will allow you to approach within a few inches ...

After the dive you can enjoy a barbecue with your family. Located in Bethlehem Pennsylvania, Dutch Springs is a 47 acre lake that gives a diver the opportunity to discover the joys of fresh water diving.

Most people think of Dutch Springs as just a place to go for dive training. Although it is true that thousands of individuals have completed their dive training here, this Lake has so much more to offer and the history of Dutch springs is a story in itself.

In the early 1930's this area was nothing more than three farms in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. The National Portland Cement Co. surveyed the area and purchased the farms to begin excavation. The area is rich in limestone that is used in the manufacture of cement. As they began to remove the limestone and dug deeper the quarry began to flood. Pumping of water had to begin almost immediately to keep the Quarry operational. During World War II most of the employees were needed for the war effort. To save money the pumps were shut off and the Quarry was allowed to fill.

After the employees returned the pumps were turned back on and the removal of limestone continued. Depth of the quarry now reached almost 100'. In the 1970's the Quarry went out of business the pumps were shut off for the final time and the Quarry became a Lake . Purchased by 5 partners whose intent was to develop the lake for diving, Dutch Springs opened for business Labor day of 1980. Crowds flocked in the single digits to experience a small entry area and 1 submerged platform. Fifteen years later there are 15 platforms and a variety of entry areas with ample parking.

Times change people move on and now Mr. Stuart Schooley is the sole owner, affectionately known as Stu. He is always available to answer questions, give friendly advice and point out the attractions found in the lake. Stu's aim is to deliver enjoyable diving accommodations for every level of certification. Non-divers have not been left out in the scheme of things either, but first let's talk about diving at Dutch Springs.

As I mentioned before, many individuals finished their certification here. Dive platforms are located at strategic positions at a depth of approximately 20'. Buoys mark the locations on the surface and are easy to spot. There is even a boat ladder platform with a hang bar at 15' for simulated boat diving. Maps are provided at the entrance and the helpful staff will answer any questions you may have. Dive support is provided by certified and insured Divemasters, Assistant Instructors and Instructors who are always present while the lake is open for diving. Oxygen, first aid equipment and medical personnel are available. Support such as this has made Dutch Springs one of the largest fresh water training facilities in the East.

Of course many of you out there are already certified and may not be thinking of diving in a "training facility." Well, think about this: currently you can dive on a Cessna airplane in 35' of water, a fire truck in 25' of water or a gantry that descends to a depth of 80'. There is a submerged pump station, wooden cruisers, a steel vessel, a van and a tanker truck. There is also a submerged "island" and a steel staircase that starts on the surface and descends to the lake depths. Depth in the lake can reach 100' but most of the attractions are located in shallow water. If you are into viewing some of the residents of this lake, keep your eyes open and swim slowly. Some of the current inhabitants are trout, bass, bluegills, large goldfish, and crayfish. Algae and fresh water plants create sweeping vistas that are fun to swim past. Submerged trees and other structures are a favorite hangout for the fish. There is a stocking program that is assisted by a biologist to help introduce new species properly. Of course fishing of any kind is NOT allowed. Early spring and fall will give the best conditions for visibility. It can exceed 30', but the water temperatures can be in the low 40's in the spring. Wide Angle u/w photography is best practiced at this time of the year. As the weather and the water warms up, thermoclines will develop. The warmer water stays on the top and the heavier, colder layers sink towards the bottom. Usually two develop, one at a depth of 20' and a second at 60'. Water on the bottom can still be in the 40's which will explain why some divers will still wear drysuits in August. In the summer, surface temperatures can be in the high 70's, but a wake up call will follow once you pass through the thermoclines. Visibility will drop to an average of 15' because of algae growth. The bottom of all lakes will have areas of fine silt that will reduce visibility if buoyancy control is poor.

A Diamond Reef System has been installed permanently at a depth of 25' on one of the platforms. This group of 7 diamonds made from PVC piping is here to help you fine tune buoyancy control. When you combine all the attractions here and also have the added pleasure of no tides, currents, or waves, the diving day plans out to be fun and exciting... But wait there's more!

After the dive, enjoy hot and cold running showers and a heated changing facility. This is definitely a treat after a cold spring dive. There are also two open air pavilions for special events. Dutch Springs did not forget the non-diving members of the family either: water craft are available to rent. The selection includes kayaks, paddle boats and water bikes. Swimming is allowed and there are large open fields for more family fun. Barbecuing is allowed but you must supply your own grill, as no open fires are allowed.

Alcohol is not permitted at any time. Future plans include a wading pool and playground.

Dutch Springs is the site for many special events including store treasure hunts, fund raisers and Divers Alert Network (DAN) dive safety programs. Dive manufactures hold equipment trials from time to time during the season. Admission rates are $15.00 per diver, $10.00 for each non-diver, and $5.00 for non-diving children (5 to 11 years between May 15 and Sept. 30). The season begins April 1 and ends the second weekend in December. Although there are no dive shop facilities, air fills are available.

All together, Dutch Springs brings family fun and diving together in the grassy fields of the Lehigh Valley.

Travel directions: From new York and New Jersey
West on I78 to Rte. 22 (exit 3, last exit in N.J.)
to route 191, North on 191 to Hanoverville rd.
Approx. 1 mile north of Route 22, Make a left
Travel approx. 1 mile Dutch Springs is on the left.

For more information, visit the Dutch Springs Website (http://www.dutchsprings.com), or write to:

Dutch Springs
4733 Hanoverville Rd.
Bethlehem PA. 18017
Phone: 610-837-1618 / 759-2270
Email: dutchspr@dutchsprings.com

Original NJScuba website by Tracey Baker Wagner 1994-1996

Dutch Springs Sikorsky S-56 Helicopter

Dutch Springs Sikorsky S-56 Helicopter Line Drawing

helicopter, heavy-lift transport
suspended between 25 and 40 ft
Keystone Helicopter

Dutch Springs Sikorsky S-56 Helicopter

The Sikorsky S-56 was the first of the military multi-engine "heavy-lift" helicopters. The military designation was CH-37 "Mojave", although it was known to its crews as the "Big Deuce" for its twin engines. This was probably also a nod to its cargo carrying capacity, since the Army's standard heavy truck was also known as a "Deuce." The original 1953 Mojave could lift over 10,000 pounds or carry 26 combat troops on the power of its two 18 cylinder 1900 hp radial piston engines. Clamshell doors in the nose even allowed loading of small vehicles.

Dutch Springs Sikorsky S-56 Helicopter

Production of the S-56 ended in 1960. 'Deuces' served in all branches of the military well into the 1970s, when they were replaced by more powerful turbine-powered craft. A few, like the one at Dutch Springs, were sold to civilian operators; most were scrapped. Keystone Helicopter donated this well-worn example to Dutch Springs in 1995.

Dutch Springs Sikorsky S-56 Helicopter

Dutch Springs Sikorsky S-56 Helicopter
Dutch Springs' S-56, at the end of a long and useful life, May 1993 - Wilmington DE.

On Dutch Springs' aircraft, all the doors and cockpit glazing, as well as the engines and main rotor blades are gone, but the tail rotor is in place and can be moved around. Large frames on either side of the fuselage below the rotor are the remains of stub wings that carried the engines and landing gear. The main rotor hub is about five feet in diameter.

Dutch Springs Sikorsky S-56 Helicopter
Looking up and aft at the nose, lowered landing gear on either side.

The depth of the bottom below the helicopter fluctuates with the water level of the quarry, between 50 and 60 ft. The helicopter itself is suspended from the surface at a depth of 25 ft.

Dutch Springs Sikorsky S-56 Helicopter

Dutch Springs Sikorsky S-56 Helicopter
Looking over the main rotor hub down and forward at the cockpit. Note the cables suspending the helicopter from the floats above.

Dutch Springs Sikorsky S-56 Helicopter
While the engines are gone, the main rotor head is still in place, and is a fascinating piece of machinery.

Dutch Springs Sikorsky S-56 Helicopter
Inside, looking out. Like many of the attractions at Dutch Springs, the helicopter is easily penetrated. As you swim through, note all the cargo tie-downs in the floor.

Dutch Springs Sikorsky S-56 Helicopter
A diver swims near the tail rotor. The blades are about 7 ft long.

Helicopter jokes:



I make no claim as to the accuracy, validity, or appropriateness of any information found in this website. I will not be responsible for the consequences of any action that is based upon information found here. Scuba diving is an adventure sport, and as always, you alone are responsible for your own safety and well being.

Copyright © 1996-2016 Rich Galiano
unless otherwise noted



since 2016-09-11