Kane County History: Reflections of Batavia's Quarry Beach Pool

Kane County History: Reflections of Batavia’s Quarry Beach Pool

  • Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s post was submitted by Batavia Depot Museum Executive Director Jennifer Putzier.

Generations of Batavians have celebrated the arrival of summer by taking off for Hall Quarry Beach. Forty thousand annual visitors have millions of years of history and some industrious early Batavians to thank for this refreshing feature!

Batavia’s natural limestone deposits were very attractive to the early settlers as building materials. The limestone was formed during the Paleozoic age, about 542 million years ago to 251 million years ago. Illinois was covered by shallow seas, during which the land would rise and dry off only to be submerged again.

Countless sea animals inhabited the sea covering the area, and as they died they settled to the bottom of the sea. The weight of the water compressed their remains which, in time, became the limestone that was so valuable to early Batavians.

Settlers had been using the limestone for their own purposes before then, but in 1842, Zeres Reynolds opened the first commercial limestone quarry in Batavia on the west side of the river. Before long, there were nine operating quarries in Batavia.

Batavia had earned the nickname “Rock City.”

Hall Quarry Beach can trace its beginning back to 1852, when Lawrence P. Barker and James C. Derby opened a quarry on Batavia’s west side. Barker paid $1,000 an acre for his first quarry. Later, he bought five-and-a-half additional acres at $2,000 an acre. The stone was used in his extensive contracting business, and it became the largest quarry site in Batavia.

About 150 men worked at the quarry, pulling out stone until water began seeping into the floor of the site. The spring water formed six ponds, which were named Swimming Pond, Frog Pond, Snow’s Big Pond, Shed Pump Pond and Little Quarry Pond. The children would have fun in the summer, swimming (illegally) in the ponds.

In 1920, the “old swimming holes” officially became the town beach. Frederick Beach purchased the land from Barker and donated the site to the Batavia Township Park Board. The township created one swimming area from the six ponds and named it the Frederick H. Beach Park and Pool.

During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration employed laborers to work at the park and complete renovations to the facilities. Concrete shuffleboard courts, horseshoe pitching mounds, a children’s playground and picnic facilities were added.

In 1969, the Batavia Park District was created. That year, the city transferred all its park land, including the quarry, to the Park District.

In 1992-93, the park underwent a major renovation, and the pool received a new name: Harold Hall Quarry Beach.

Harold “Bosco” Hall had long been a friend of the quarry, both as superintendent of the Recreation Committee on Batavia’s City Council before the Park District was formed, and then serving 18 years as a Park Board commissioner.

Batavians have been swimming at the quarry for more than 100 years (98 years legally!), and 2018 is no different.

The Park District staff is excited to open once again for the season on Saturday, May 26, 2018. The quarry’s hours are 11:30 a.m. for season pass holders, noon for the public. It is open until 6 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and open until 7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

2018 Quarry Special Events

  • Wacky Water Olympics — 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. June 18
  • Beach Ball Bonanza — 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. July 19
  • So Long Summer and Swim — 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 10

About the Batavia Depot Museum

The Batavia Depot Museum opened in 1975 as a partnership between the Batavia Park District and the Batavia Historical Society. The Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad Depot was the first of its kind built in 1854, and is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

Inside, the city’s past comes alive through exhibits detailing the history of rail transportation, manufacture of windmills, agriculture, banking, commerce and a brief stay by Mary Todd Lincoln at Bellevue Place. Open seasonally, from March to November, hours are 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Read The Kane County History Series!