Spring has arrived in Evansville and that means swimming pool season is right around the corner! While you grab your towels and slap on some sunscreen, we looked back at a time when residents of the River City had access to a unique swim spot.
Shown in this late-1800s photograph from the University of Southern Indiana’s David L. Rice Library Archives, the Fritzlar Mineral Springs were a popular saltwater pool on Bismark Avenue (now Buchanan Road).
After an oil well drill found saltwater instead of oil along Pigeon Creek, Dr. Willian Rahm opened the Salt Wells Bath and Bathing Pool health park in 1892. Dr. William Cluthe purchased the property and wooden pool in 1896, reopening the attraction under the name Fritzlar Mineral Springs.
In 1900, the pool was reconstructed out of concrete in a new location on the property. It was a hit with Evansvillians who waded in the salty waters and swim instructors often were available. The pool’s popularity was fueled by its water source. The 1,586-foot well pumped about 80 gallons per minute into the pool — making it twice as salty as sea water and maintaining a temperature of 74 degrees Fahrenheit.
For several decades the pool underwent many challenges. In 1910, the old wooden pool was buried by construction from the Big Four Railroad which disturbed bathers in the new location with noise and smoke. When World War I began, the pool’s German name was changed to the Salt Pool.
Despite these struggles and the opening of another saltwater pool in Cook’s Park in the 1920s, the Salt Pool remained popular until its untimely closure in 1937 when the salt spring dried up.
Photo provided by USI David L. Rice Digital Library.