GARDINER — Jason Cottle lost his high school class ring 27 years ago while swimming in a quarry on Granite Hill in Hallowell.

He never thought he’d ever see it again. Then he read in the Kennebec Journal the quarry was being drained.

Thursday morning, to his surprise, Cottle found the lost treasure.

“We found it on a ledge that would have been 35 feet under the waterline, where we used to swim,” Cottle said Thursday. “As soon as I saw the picture in the paper, I realized the waterline was below the ledge where I lost the ring. I went right up there and started looking for it.”

The owner of Stinchfield Quarry, Lenny Nason, is draining the quarry, which has been closed for 80 years, to restart a granite mining operation.

Cottle, a 45-year-old carpenter from Gardiner, said he and a friend had to claw through dirt and pieces of granite that had slid into the water.

While searching for the engraved ring, they found jewelry, shoes, clothing, four pairs of glasses, three sets of keys on rings, unexploded blasting caps, clothing, about $3 in change, four cases of soda and beer bottles, and a safe that someone had cut a hole in the side with a blowtorch.

“I found the diving mask I lost when looking for the ring back in 1983,” he said.

Cottle said the swimming spot is located on the north side of the quarry. People would lose items as they climb up the rocks to get back to the rope swing, he said.

The ring looks pretty good, he said, even after all this time under water.

“The ring is in unbelievably good condition,” he said. “It probably would look worse if I wore it for 27 years.”

Cottle’s 86-year-old mother, Pauline Cottle, said she was glad her son found his ring.

“I was tickled to death,” she said. “He told me he lost it when he and his brother went swimming in the quarry. He said he put his hand up in the air and it flipped off. He’s been up there three days in a row now looking for it. He started hunting for it the first thing in the morning after he read the article.”

Cottle said his mom had always thought he had given it to his high school sweetheart when she left for college.

“She didn’t want me to give it to a girl,” he said. “She bought it for me and wanted me to keep it. That’s the big reason I wanted to go find it. To prove to her I really did lose it. I would never have given it away. I’m quite the mama’s boy.”

Nason said he hasn’t had time to look for items at the bottom of the quarry as the water recedes.

He said there is about 20 feet to go before the quarry is completely drained.

“I haven’t looked for anything,” Nason said. “I’ve been too busy with customers.”

Mechele Cooper — 623-3811, ext. 408

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