Mason City Quarry,
Mason City, Iowa.

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Big Blue, Mason City, Iowa

In the hometown of "Music Man" composer Meredith Willson is a quarry called "Big Blue," a 14-acre lake formed after the Mason City Brick and Tile ceased operations sometime in the late '60s or early '70s. Big Blue is in the southwest part of town in Lester Milligan Park. The swimming beach is the best spot to enter the water, says Mark Suby, Mason City's superintendent of parks. Gas-powered motors are not permitted on boats. Local emergency personnel frequently use the lake for training. Underwater is a training platform in 13 feet of depth, old cars and trucks on the lake's east side, and a 25-foot sailboat. At its narrowest point the Big Blue is 750 feet (227 m) wide.

Depths: 34 feet (10 m)

Visibility: from 5 feet in the spring to 50 feet in the winter, according to one diver.

Water temperature: 70-76 degrees Fahrenheit (21-24 degrees Celsius) in the summer, and 45-70 F (7-21 C) in the spring.

Aquatic life: Largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, northern pike, and twice each year the lake is stocked with trout.

Fees: None

On-site amenities: Shelter house with electricity, water and restrooms, swimming and playground equipment for the kids.

More info: Call the Mason City Parks and Recreation Department at (641) 421-3673. For other information, call the Mason City Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 423-5724.

Open: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily

Getting there: The quarry is part of Lester Milligan Park, in the southwest part of Mason City.