Sixty years ago, it was billed as the “biggest municipal Christmas present in the county” — a new, heated indoor swimming pool.
Clemens Community Pool opened to the public on Dec. 26, 1960. Rex and Ethel Clemens donated money for the pool to ensure every child had the opportunity to learn how to swim. Over the previous several years, families in the area had lost children to drownings.
The pool measured standard AAU length — 30-by-75 feet — and had been constructed at Philomath Junior-Senior High School. It opened for public swimming for the first time at 2 p.m. on Dec. 26, according to newspaper accounts.
“Only 60 swimmers will be allowed in the pool at one time,” a story in the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported. “When the number exceeds that total, an hourly rotation system will be used to give everyone a turn.”
The pool’s depth measured 10 feet in the diving area and 3 feet at the shallow end. It took 118,000 gallons of water to fill it. The water was cleaned every six hours through a diatomaceous earth-filtering system. The pool area featured glass doors which opened to a sun deck for use during the summer. School furnaces heated the pool with sawdust serving as fuel at the time.
How much did it cost to get in? The fee was 25 cents for students through high school age and 50 cents for adults. In today’s dollars, that would be $2.20 for students, $4.40 for adults.
Larry Stevens, a Philomath Junior High teacher, said that lifeguards were being trained in preparation for the opening.
Swim lessons were scheduled to begin Jan. 7 with three-hour instruction periods on Saturday mornings. The classes ran until March 12 and cost $2.
The general public got its first glimpse of the new swimming pool during a Dec. 22 open house. Philomath students led the guided tours and that evening, the class in Senior Life Saving — taught by Stevens — gave a swimming demonstration.
The process to construct the pool had started in February 1960 when it went out to bid for construction. It was the third attempt to find a contractor with bids on two earlier occasions rejected. Construction began March 17 and the work completed earlier in December. The cost came in at $106,000.
Fast forward 60 years to today. The local pool continues to operate but is nearing the end of its life. A pool committee has resumed meeting and a new pool director is in place to consider which direction to take in the future.
Happy birthday to Clemens Community Pool — a longtime centerpiece for the world of Warrior athletics and also an appreciated facility in the community.