When the Keyes Pool opened in 1965, it spelled the end of quarry swimming. Well, at least officially — even today, a quick Youtube search will turn up outlaw videos of youngsters diving 80 feet or more into local quarries. But for decades, as the Milford Cabinet put it, “generations of youngsters learned to swim and dive under conditions that would give any Red Cross lifeguard gray hairs.” Indeed, a dozen quarries around town, including the twin swimming holes of the Lovejoy Quarry, the Pease Quarry in South Milford, Tonella’s in East Milford, and Roberts Quarry — the last to close — near Mont Vernon Road, were popular spots for family swimming. Many were used with the silent assent of the owners. The allure was unmistakable. As the Nashua Telegraph put it, “One finds high marbled headwalls 75 feet high variegated with a myriad of changing red, grey and blue patterns.” Beautiful but also potentially quite dangerous. 23-year-old Richard Paquette of Manchester died after diving from a 10-foot rock in July 1958, hitting a projecting ledge and fracturing his neck — just one of many such accidents that happened both before and after quarry swimming was tacitly permitted.
By 1965, the situation at the quarries had deteriorated, as rowdy parties kept police busy nearly every summer weekend. Years before, some quarry owners had tried to legitimize the scene. In 1946, Robert Pease added a sandy beach, diving boards, and changing rooms — even kerosene lamps for night swimming. But the early days of quarry swimming in Milford had a more Edenesque innocence. One Cabinet writer in 1942 recalled, “In the days when the Treasury Building columns were quarried, any kid who tried to swim in anything more than his birthday suit would have been beset by a gang of young savages bent on teaching him the ethics of freshwater bathing.”
Keyes Pool opened in 1965.