Fun At The McGill Pool
By Keith Gibson
Finally, the last day of the dreaded school year was at hand. We McGill boys tolerated school only because it had a recess in the morning and again in the afternoon. Now we were free for 3 wonderful months of baseball, hunting, fishing, hiking and of course the famed McGill natural springs pool.
The pool was maintained by Kennecott Copper Corporation (KCC). They drained it each spring and cleaned out the seaweed, lined the pool and other areas with yellow sand. The company had built high and low diving boards. The pool was fairly deep. There were two large rafts for us to play King of the Hill on, which resulted in many cuts and bruises.
KCC provided the life guards. They were always very cute local gals that we boys had crushes on. The McGill Community League and KCC provided Red Cross classes to teach the basics of swimming and also to advance to Life Guard status.
The pool was always open. There was no fence. The life guards were on station from 7 am to 7 pn. Swimming at night was fun and a bit scary. The water was hard to see when diving off the high board. The lights of Ely could be seen while standing on even the low board, as the KCC Tailings were not very high at that time. The local sheriff’s deputy, “Hockshaw” would shine his spotlight on the pool to catch us, but it was easy to duck under the diving board platform and hide from him.
We either rode our bikes or walked to the pool. After a long strenuous day of swimming it was a chore to go back up the hill to town. We had strong legs because no matter where one went in McGill, it was always uphill.
There were two ways to get in the pool. Dive or jump in quickly and get the “cold water shock”, or wade in slowly. Some kids liked to wade into the pool from the north end where the warm springs bubbled up. The only problem was it was rather rocky.
We tried to outdo each other with our own version of the cannonball. Buddy Jukich was the master at this. He also practiced diving all the time and it was fun to watch him. We all of course tried our hand at different dives , but none could match Buddy. Another fun thing to watch was when Kenneth Giles picked up a large rock and walk from one side of the pool to the other while under water. The rock kept him on the bottom.
The stream below the rock wall was a good place to catch minnow, but we usually ended up with some bloodsuckers attached to our bare legs.
The black sand was another hazard. It was very hot and had the most terrible slivers that broke when you tried to pull them out. We would bury eggs in the hot sand to cook them while we swam. The yellow sand around the pool after a while became like sandpaper. A trip and fall meant some wicked scrapes on bare skin.
There was a small cold stream that flowed into the northeast corner of the pool. It came from a spring that is now under the grassy park. The spring provided some great watercress at certain times of the year.
The McGill pool was featured in a travel magazine in the 1980s. It was labeled as the best natural swimming hole in the USA. I am trying to find it. All in all, the pool gave us kids many a wonderful fun filled summer and a lifetime of great memories. I have more details about the pool in my two books on McGill during the 40s and 50s.