Venture onto Manchester's Heritage Minerals site, and if you're lucky, you'll get arrested. If not, you might wind up dead.

Heritage Minerals Site (Manchester Police Dept.)

As Labor Day Weekend arrives, Manchester police are reinforcing patrols and reminding would-be revelers that the tract, also knowns as the ASARCO (American Smelting and Refining Company, Inc.) site, is private property, with obviously-posted "No Trespassing" signs. Trespassers risk possible jail time and fines.

They are especially concerned about people taking impromptu swims, and families with small children. Drownings have occurred with disconcerting regularity in the past several years.

The 7,000-acre site connects Manchester's eastern portion, near Route 37, with its western side, near Route 70. Mining operations that ended in the 1980s left it dotted with numerous "lakes," which are really excavations filled with water from an underground aquifer.

Because they're not naturally-formed lakes, the shore lines, banks and beds are unstable. Police warn that it takes only a few steps into the porous, soft terrain to open dropoffs that can be 60 to perhaps 300 feet deep.

The lack of rain, they add, exposes more of the edge, and shortens the path to the steep dropoffs.

The water is clear, cold and filled with minerals, greatly reduced in buoyancy, and quickly taxing the stamina of even an accomplished swimmer, police said.

Criminal charges might also await anyone driving an all-terrain or recreational vehicle onto the grounds, and those planning to light bonfires.

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