Old Missoula

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Modern Swimming Pool One of Best in Northwest by Sylvia M. Haight

E-mail Print PDF

Modern Swimming Pool One of Best in Northwest


By Sylvia M. Haight.

          Anyone who swims in Missoula’s new public swimming pool, is bound to be thoroughly wet before he steps into the pool. He passes through a 20-foot gantlet of continuous showers which spray him as he walks through the corridor that leads from each dressing room to the pool. At the same time he must wade through water several inches in depth that will cover the corridor floors. This preliminary shower is only one of the health and safety precautions that make Missoula’s pool one of the most sanitary in the country.

          The pool has been built according to plans loaned to Missoula by the city of Chicago and modified to meet local needs. One modification is an increased proportion of shallow area, studies of pools in operation having showed a much greater use of shallow than deep water. Other adaptations were necessary because of climatic differences in rate of evaporation of water and expansion of concrete. Evaporation, which in Chicago pools requires the daily addition of about 30 per cent of the volume of water, will be reduced materially by Montana’s cool nights. Since a relatively small amount of water need be added daily, the local pool depends on sun heat to keep a temperature of about 68 degrees. However, plans have allowed sufficient room for the installation of a heating system if it should prove desirable.


500 Feet of Tunnels.

          Built in the shape of a capital T. the pool measures 150 feet from stem to top, and slightly more than 82 feet from end to end of the cross-bar. These distances permit holding of standard 50-yard and 25-meter races. The shallow pool lies in the stem of the T. where the water is from three to five feet deep. Greatest depth is nine and one-half feet where the deep pool dips to a trough. This depth may be increased by one foot on occasion, by running in an extra 12 inches of water.

          A yard-wide tunnel completely surrounding the pool allows instant access to the intake and outlet pipes, and to the electrical wiring for the under-water lighting system. In addition, shorter tunnels beneath the plumbing fixtures in the change-house make a total of about 500 feet of tunneling. Man-high in most places, the tunnels have concrete walls and floors, and contribute to easy maintenance of the plant.

          Eight-inch concrete floors in the pool, concrete walls, stairways, tunnels, riprapping, foundations, porches, platforms, and floors in the change-house and filter-room account in part for the immense amount of concrete required in the project. City Engineer W. H. Swearingen estimates that enough concrete has been used to cover a two-and-one-half-acre tract to a depth of two feet.


Health and Safety Measures

          Besides the continuous showers, a number of health and safety measures are incorporated in the pool. Its floor has a rough finish to prevent slipperiness when wet, and a final rubbing has removed any sharp particles. Ladders leading into the pool are flush with the wall, and have flat steps that allow a finger-grip, but have no space large enough to catch an arm or a leg.

          Complete circulation of pool water through the filters and chlorinator takes only eight hours and 15 minutes. The requirement of the Montana state board of health in this regard is for a complete change every 36 hours. Four pressure filters, located in a basement-level room near the head of the pool, will remove all foreign matter and bacteria from the water; other equipment includes the chlorinator, chemical feeds, and hair catcher. Tests of the water will be taken every hour from each of the four filter tanks. In building the pool the city of Missoula has matched or exceeded the safety and sanitary recommendations of the Montana state board of health, and those of New York, Illinois, and other states. Missoula parents may feel assured that their children will swim in a pool maintaining a high degree of sanitation.

          Other safety precautions include a first-aid room and the guard room, both facing the pool, and under-water lighting. Twenty dry-niche light-wells have been sunk into the concrete about half-way up the sides of the pool. Each well carries a 1,000-watt bulb, and has a 21-inch lens. Under-water lighting will allow instant and complete illumination of the entire pool. In addition, over-head floodlights will be used for night illumination.

          The new pool is the third to be used in Missoula under municipal or private management. In 1919 the city built a public pool a block east of Higgins avenue, on Pattee street, which has been used yearly since its construction. Later the Wilma plunge was opened under private management. Beaches near the Buckhouse, Maclay and Van Buren bridges have also been used, but several drownings and near-drownings in the Missoula and Bitter Root rivers and in irrigation ditches convinced citizens that a safe and sanitary place must be provided for swimmers.

          Mrs. Edgar McClure was in charge of the Wilma plunge for several years and recalls that 85 girls were enrolled in one high school class, with similar enrollments among the boys. Mrs. McClure, who has conducted Y. W. C. A. swimming classes, was later an instructor in swimming at Montana State University. Among the hundreds of persons she has taught to swim, she has had to rescue only one child. She expressed the hope that Red Cross life-saving certificates could be earned by many local young persons.



          The swimming pool is the first unit to be completed in McCormick park, which comprises about 17 acres, and has been acquired by the city by gifts and purchase. Part of the park was a gift to the city from the McCormicks; part was donated by the state highway commission; a third gift was made by Henry Silver after his purchase of the Polley’s mill, and includes the lagoon, formerly part of the mill-pond. The city purchased the remaining portion, the price including water rights for irrigation. Other units of the park include a baseball diamond, horseshoe courts, picnic grounds, Silver lagoon boating area, and parking areas for several hundred cars.

          A sleight-of-hand performer could hardly have done better than the park authorities have, in tucking away almost out of sight, their nursery of thousands of trees and shrubs. Most of the trees stand inconspicuously at the foot of the railroad embankment, and cover about two acres. Included in the nursery are 300,000 caraganas, several thousand white ash and willows, balsam fir, mugho pine, spruce, Norway maples and Chinese elms. To be transplanted as soon as the grounds are prepared for landscaping, the trees have been secured at minimum cost. The University has given surplus stock from the University plot, and other shrubs have been procured from the Garden City Floral company and the Sunset nursery, both by gift and purchase.

          Among the interesting machines in use at the grounds is a dumpster, a light truck with detachable buckets holding one and one-half cubic yards of earth. The dumpster scuttles between excavations and fills, detaching its empty bucket and picking up a full one, keeping 20 men busy filling its five buckets. During excavating and filling operations around the pool, this machine has frequently traveled 50 miles a day without moving more than two blocks from its starting point.

          One of many Federal-aid projects, McCormick park has been improved by WPA labor, the city of Missoula furnishing the materials. Under the direction of Oscar Harris, foreman, a force of 65 men has done both skilled and unskilled labor. In April, the WPA quota cut reduced the number or workers to 40.


Marshall Makes Statement

          Planning of the McCormick park area has been under the direction of the park board, members of which are W. J. Marshall, Winfield Page, A. J. Mosby, W. G. Tremper, R. E. Coy, J. H. Ramskill, William Fox, Jr., Mrs. Harriet Lennes and George L. Knight.

          According to Dr. W. J. Marshall, park board chairman, “The park and pool furnishes healthful and safe recreational facilities to thousands of individuals who have heretofore had no opportunities of this kind. Every year several lives have been lost because children and adults have gone swimming in dangerous places in the Bitter Root and Missoula rivers and in irrigation ditches. With the many facilities for sports and games in McCormick Recreation park, children and adults should be attracted to the place, and with the many safety precautions the death rate from swimming should be nil.

          “I am of the opinion that this area will prove to be one of the show places of the Northwest, and one of the most widely used. It will be a source of pride and satisfaction to the people of Missoula.”

          It is doubtful if one per cent of Missoula’s citizens are familiar with the size, progress, and possibilities of this recreational area. Visitors are welcome, and during working hours someone is available to show them over the huge project.




Last Updated on Saturday, 29 December 2012 16:45