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

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

On 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. “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 the Stinchfield Quarry, Lenny Nason, is draining it so he can resume the granite-mining operation. The quarry has been closed for 80 years.

Cottle, a 45-year-old carpenter from Gardiner, said he and a friend had to claw through dirt and pieces of granite strewn across the ledge.

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

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

Cottle said the old swimming spot is on the north side of the quarry. People would lose things as they climbed up to the rope swing there, 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 that 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 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.”