Loch Low‑Minn History

Learn about the history of Loch Low‑Minn, from the formation of the quarry to the present day.

The original owners of the resort

The story of Loch Low‑Minn began when McMinn County, TN leased the land from a local farmer to quarry limestone for road construction. The quarry was eventually closed in the 1970's, and the original owner put the land up for auction. In 1996, Rick and Stacy Low purchased the land and began developing it into a diving resort. Combining their last name with the name of the county, they dubbed the lake (or "loch", in Scottish) and the resort itself "Loch Low‑Minn".

Public Domain | Image by Timothy Knepp - US Fish and Wildlife Service

Through hard work and a passion for scuba diving, the Lows transformed the simple quarry lake into a top rate scuba resort, but it wasn't until ten years later that the loch's current mascot came on the scene. The loch was already home to a variety of aquatic life, including bass, bluegill, and catfish. However, it was the addition of the famous paddlefish that made the resort truly unique. In 2006, the Loch Low-Minn resort teamed up with the Tennessee Aquarium and the Choo Choo Diving and Aquatic Center in Chattanooga, TN to introduce the new species into the loch. These odd looking but gentle giants, whose kind predates the dinosaurs, were relocated to the loch after four months of careful testing to make sure that they would thrive in and not disturb their new environment. Introduced as mere foot-long babies, the paddlefish quickly grew to their full adult size (about 6 feet and 60+ pounds) and became the primary attraction of the resort. Although the loch lacks the necessary current to allow paddlefish to breed, their 30+ year lifespans promise to make the current population a happy sight in the loch for many years to come.

The current owner of the resort

In 2014, the Lows decided to sell Loch Low‑Minn and began searching for someone that would want to continue running the scuba diving business that had been their labor of love for almost two decades. That someone ended up being Alexandre Smirnov. Alex moved to East Tennessee with his family back in 1992 and made a living as a mechanical engineer, subcontracting for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Having had an interest in scuba diving since childhood, he finally realized his dream of getting certified in 2012 and quickly familiarized himself with all things scuba. When he saw that Loch Low‑Minn was for sale, he knew that this was what he wanted to do. By the end of summer, Alex was running the resort and forming grand plans for where to take it in the future. With the help of an awesome staff and a growing number of local dive schools that have been drawn to the reborn resort, Loch Low‑Minn ended the year on a high note. The off-season has been spent updating and improving the resort and its various amenities, and the 2015 season promises to be the best one yet! New prices, new rules, and an active and modernized online presence herald the arrival of the new Loch Low‑Minn.

This chapter is just getting started. Come visit us and add your own name to the story!