The first public outdoor pool in town dates back to 1916, when Great Northern Railway agent A. A. Piper and his wife got the bad news that their son John had drowned at the Morris Pond north of the city.
John had gone skinny-dipping and friend, Jack Scaman, found his clothes but not him and presumed him drowned, took the clothes to his mother.
False alarm. John had swum out of sight around the bend. But the event motivated Piper to put in a safe substitute, and Piper’s Natatorium was born the next year.
It was located at the site of today’s PUD office, was 42 by 120 feet, and used irrigation water for three years. Piper put on special events on weekends, had E. T. Pybus build a 60-foot diving tower.
Cedergreen’s ice plant on Fifth Street furnished water after the first three years, supplying 80-degree pure water for the pool.
The city put in a public pool just north of the old city pumping plant on Fifth Street in 1936 that put the old Natatorium out of business in 1938.
Its 22 years of furnishing safe swimming were a great antidote to Columbia River’s dangerous waters.