Friday, August 15, 2008

legalize lambert's quarry!

I've been living in Knoxville on and off for ten years, and had always heard about these mystical swimming quarries where college kids swam in harmony on hot humid days. But I never went. That is, until two weeks ago when my brother was in town. We Google Mapped it and found what we thought must be the trail. Winding down through poison ivy and abandoned homeless camps, suddenly, there it was below us:

I wondered to myself why I hadn't come sooner.

Returning with the dogs yesterday evening, we hadn't been floating in the water for half an hour before two policemen came walking down the quarry trail. They asked us and a big group of college kids to leave. They didn't give us a ticket, they didn't even look like they cared about enforcing the rule. One even said to me, "Sorry for ruining all your fun." Huh?

I thought about it for the rest of the evening. It seems to me that Knoxville (who owns the property as part of Fort Dickerson Park) is wasting a awesome resource. Like usual. We spend who knows how much on Victor Ashe Park, which is, for all intensive purposes, a bunch of cow pastures with asphalt walking trails. Yet here is a unique, BEAUTIFUL place, just minutes from downtown, and the city ignores it beyond sending the occasional police patrol.

We need to develop this resource. It's already public land designated for recreational use. Put some parking in off Blount Ave., put in a decent trail and grade out a beach area. Viola! Now you've turned a hidden gem into a legal, tourist-attracting asset. People are begging to be let in, and dozens show up anyway, even though it's hard to find and illegal.

Fortunately, things may be heading in the right direction. The South Waterfront Masterplan has some vague directives about developing Fort Dickerson for more recreational uses. So far, though, nothing has moved forward. That's why I'm posting maps here of the locations of Lambert's (and Meade's, another So-Kno swimming quarry in Ijams Nature Center) so that you can go there. I hope hundreds of people go. I'll personally take you there.

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

Make it an issue with the City- say, "We want to use our land the way we want to! LEGALIZE THE QUARRY!"


benjamin said...

Hell YEA! best kept "secret" in knoxville by far.

i guess it would be hard to enforce rules like "no diving" when people like me go there once a week and do just that. and i'll never stop until they fill the thing with concrete.

max said...

yeah mead's is awesome. they should make it a public swimming hole. that would be spectacular... but the pragmatic side of me sees the liability issues that could arise: they'd probably have to put in railings, no slip grippy plastic walkways, a couple of lifeguard stands, one of those battery powered AED things in case someone goes into cardiac arrest, a tiki hut that sells sunscreen b/c people could sue for negligence, a handicap entrance ramp so we can all swim, a weather monitoring station that sounds the alarm when lightning is within range, t-shirts that say "lapswimmers love lambert's!" or number of other things.

or we could just keep it illegal and hope the police remain apathetic. but seriously. i can see the legal implications.

or we could just go swimming.

ck said...

interesting point. i wonder though- all the national parks and state parks in our country, many with dangerous features, allow full access and don't have the legal implications you brought up. is this a precedent? public land is often accessible "at your own risk".

and yes, as soon as it becomes legal it will become uncool.

stan said...

i agree with adam.

additionally, i think the organized crime lobby might fight it pretty hard. its hard to find a good body repository these days.

max said...

i didn't really think about that ck. i don't really think at all. i guess my sarcasm got the best of me.

it should be legal. if you are there by your own accord and want to swim, you should be allowed to do so.

benjamin said...

I've probably been to lambert's (which i never knew was called lambert's until today) about 50 or so times over the past 5 summers - and a few times in the winter (not recommended unless you want pneumonia), and I've never seen a policeman there. However, three friends of mine have, and they all got trespassing tickets for $101.50. I honestly kind of like that it's illegal, cause the only people that go are the ones that really want to. If you're scared of getting a ticket, don't go. And if you aren't a fan of cliff diving, don't go (or just bring a float).

Mickey said...

How about we organize our own little "Critical Mass" for quarry swimming? I'm always up for some cliff jumping if anyone needs company.

B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B said...

I don't see why they can't just put up "swim at your own risk" signs. I was just at ramsey cascades in the smokies and there was a sign that said "no climbing. 4 deaths beyond this point." they should just post the amount of deaths at each quarry and then below it say "have fun!" because 99% of everyone that has been there has had a great time. By far the best summer spots in knoxville are at these quarries.

Lo said...

but is there another reason its closed besides liability.... like poisonous metals?

max said...

that probably explains why mead's is turquoise.

Anonymous said...

If any of y'all would care to comment on the Lambert Quarry condudrum, I'm working up a piece on local quarries for the next issue of Metro Pulse. You won't get in trouble for admitting that you're a fan of the place, promise. (Or, if so, I'll be going down with you.) My deadline is soon, though (Thursday), so give me a heads up soon if you want to speak up. My email is or give me a call at 865.414.9313. Thanks! Leslie Wylie

Unknown said...

I don't get it.. why would anybody want to "Put some parking in off Blount Ave., put in a decent trail and grade out a beach area. Viola! Now you've turned a hidden gem into a legal, tourist-attracting asset."

That would ruin it for all the local kids that go there. I am visiting Knoxville from out of state and some local kids took me along. They said their parents used to swim there when they were kids. As soon as it is a "tourist attraction" non of the local kids will be able to hang out there, swim, fish, bring their dogs... everyone wants to sell out something unique and beautiful to make a buck. Disgusting.

max said...

one reason NOT to legalize this:

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