Divers splash into underwater world at scuba park

Posted: 09/26/2011 in all marine news

Betty Waters – 

Scuba divers splash into the silent underwater world and commence exploring sunken objects in a Caribbean-blue lake at an unlikely site inside this East Texas town’s business district.

Wearing self-contained underwater breathing apparatuses, a mask and air tanks strapped on their backs, they propel themselves through the water by kicking fins on their feet.

Just ahead are a 210-foot long, man-made cave and a surprising array of submerged wrecked vehicles to explore, including two jet airliners, two cabin cruisers, three buses, 16 speed boats, house boats, two sail boats and nine motorcycles.

“With all the stuff down there, it’s kind of like an underwater amusement park for divers,” Staci Murphy, a diver from Canton, said as she and her husband, Steve, prepared for an afternoon of scuba diving.

The cave and sunken objects provide “a great training facility,” fun and recreation for scuba divers to experience in a safe environment, said Calvin Wilcher, developer of Athens Scuba Park.

A 35-foot-deep, eight-acre spring-fed clay pit at the park is a popular dive site and favored destination among East Texas and out-of-state scuba divers.

The lake was formed as the old Harbson-Walker brick factory, one of the area’s first industries. Natural white clay was excavated for use in making refractery bricks for fire places from the late 1800s until the 1960s.

With its white clay bottom, the lake is like a clear bowl of water and affords divers good visibility.

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