Longtime Old Town Hot Springs manager Pat Carney entertained an audience at the Tread of Pioneers Museum Friday with the story of a late-night call she received in 1977 informing her the wooden roof of one of the swimming pools at the historic swimming destination at the eastern entrance to downtown Steamboat Springs had caved in – which ultimately proved to be good news.
“I was called the pool manager when I was hired in 1975,” Carney said during her Brown Bag lecture. “I grew up on the ocean in Rhode Island and knew nothing about swimming pools. I have a master’s degree in urban affairs. I knew nothing about pools, let alone a pool heated by a geothermal spring.”
In that era, one of the pools at what was then known as the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association, measuring about 20 feet by 60 feet, was enclosed by glass walls topped with an arched timber roof.
The good news was that the nearby Heart Springs fed the pools with 220 gallons of water a minute at temperatures consistently between 102 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit. The bad news was that the roof wasn’t properly ventilated, and all of that high humidity had caused it to rot.
“Everyone in town, when I got here called it the ‘Swim, Sauna’. Not everyone in town had a place to live. It was a place where many people took their showers. It was a bathroom for many people.” – Old Town Hot Springs Project Manager Pat Carney
“With no ventilation, it ended up taking down the whole roof,” Carney recalled.
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