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Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Swimming Tank

A book I recently discovered entitled, “The Street Railway Transit Journal, Volume 28," published in 1906, gives some insightful details into the Crystal Pool at Rock Springs Park. Did you know that even in the early days the pool, referred to in the article as the "Swimming Tank," was warmed to an average temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or that bathers rented their swimsuits and towels?

Below is an excerpt:

Swimming Tank

A unique attraction, and perhaps the most popular at the resort, is a large swimming tank measuring 70 ft. long by 20 ft. wide and giving convenient accommodations for several hundred bathers. This swimming tank is built from ideas suggested by C. A. Smith, the present lessee of the park and its promoter.

The walls and floor of the swimming tank are formed of reinforced concrete. The excavation for the pool was first made by cutting away a portion of the hill. In the bottom of this excavation was laid 12 ins. of ashes on the earth. On this bed of ashes was placed a layer of concrete 14 ins. thick, with a 2-in.concrete dressing on top to give a smooth waterproof flooring. The side walls are 3 ft. thick at the base and taper to 18 ins. at the top.

These walls are reinforced with steel cables 1 in. in diameter. One-half of the tank is designed to give a uniform depth of water of about 9 ft. In the other half the bottom is built on a slope, beginning at the water’s edge and gradually sloping downward to give a depth of 8 ft. at the outer wall. This arrangement accommodates all classes of bathers. Children and young people can safely enjoy themselves in the shallow water, while the expert swimmers take advantage of the deeper sections to dive and swim to their hearts' content. At one end of the tank two wooden towers of different heights have been arranged with spring boards and platforms for those who enjoy diving. The tank when fill holds about 600,000 gallons of water.

The water supply comes from a clear running stream and is fed into the tank from perforated pipes which pass along one side of the tank and deliver the water in a series of spray effects. As the spring water is rather cold there is an auxiliary line of piping for supplying sufficient hot water to keep the temperature in the tank at about 70 deg. F. The water for this purpose is heated in two ten-gallon heaters which burn natural gas. There is also a 20-hp boiler which is utilized for heating water. A point is made of keeping water absolutely fresh and clean, and at frequent intervals the entire contents of the pool are drained off, the bottom is scrubbed with wire brushes, and a fresh supply of water is allowed to flow into the tank. Along one side of the swimming pool are concrete steps and a concrete platform upon which the bathers may rest and enjoy sun baths.

A commodious building at one end of the pool gives commodations [sic] for 120 dressing rooms, and the structure has wide verandas which are utilized for refreshment stands and for spectators who may care to watch the antics of the bathers. There is also a grand stand at the side of the pool which gives seats for 800 spectators. In the basement of the bathing pavilion, under the dressing rooms, is an apartment containing the hot water apparatus and which is utilized as a laundry for cleaning and drying the bathing suits. In this connection, the management believes that the secret of successfully maintaining a swimming tank lies in the care used in keeping everything absolutely clean and sanitary. All of the bathing suits and towels, as soon as they have been used once, are put in a laundry machine in which they are washed and sterilized. They are then thoroughly dried in a centrifugal drying machine. The popularity of the bathing facilities at the park is due in very large measure to this care in washing and drying the suits and towels as well as the attention that is paid in keeping the water tank in good condition. The degree to which the swimming tank is patronized will be understood from the fact that last season, constituting about one hundred days, over 25,000 people paid to bathe in the tank. The practice is to charge 25 cents for each person, which includes suit, towel, and the use of the pool and dressing rooms. On busy days each bather is limited to one hour in the pool. The pool is well lighted at night, and bathing at night is almost as popular as in the daytime
(All images, with the exception of the RSP Bath House Cash Box, Courtesy of Richard Bowker.)

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