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Bluffton's floating pool

It's a mysterious place no one reading this has ever seen

The world’s oceans hold many secrets. Sea monsters, sunken treasure and ghost ships fill our imagination with what’s below the surface of the might deep. These great ponds do not, however, hold ownership to all watery mysteries. As you will soon discover, the Buckeye quarry has a few secrets of its own.

But of all Bluffton’s mysterious places, the Buckeye holds one sunken mystery vessel you never knew existed. A floating pool once treaded its surface. The first question always asked is, how did it float without sinking?

Answer: It had many very large floating oil drums tied to it. The second-most asked question’s answer is found at the end of this chapter. Described as “floats,” the wooden pool measured 30 by 60 feet.

It went into service in 1939, serving the community’s swimmers each summer until the early 1950s when Bluffton’s first-ever stand-alone pool was built, adjoining the Buckeye. That pool was demolished when the current swimming pool opened.

One who swam in the floating pool describes the experience this way: For those who do not remember the floating pools, also known as cribs, I’ll try to explain. The fresh spring water from the quarry was free to wash through the spaces between the boards on the sides and bottom. To cross the pool faster under water, we used to “pull cracks.”

We hooked our fingertips on the floor boards to pull ourselves through the water. Cross the short way was easy as the floor boards lay lengthwise.

But to pull cracks in the other direction, you really had to slip your fingers far enough under the boards to get a grip. Some of the spaces were not as wide as others and we were always a bit afraid of getting trapped four feet under. But it didn’t deter us from using this accelerated means of locomotion.

And then there were fish who bit people. For several days one summer, a little fish hung around the ladder in the shallow pool. If you put your foot on the bottom rung, it would dart over and nip your toe. It was obviously a baby fish, inflicting no injury at all, but it took all my nerve to put my foot on that ladder.

What became of the floating pool? The answer is similar to what the navy does with retired battleships. You’ll never believe what’s at the bottom of the Buckeye.

In the mid-1950s the pool was sunk and for several years could be seen from the north bank when the water was very clear. Those days are past, as the Buckeye’s clear depths turned green, but the floating pool remains, with all its stories, at the bottom of the quarry.

Photos of Bluffton's floating pool - all taken by Paul Diller

Main Street side of Buckeye with floating pool in the background

Bathhouse on the far right in the winter


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