Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, June 21, 2015, pg. 14
It is sad to see the condition of the Rieger Park pond considering the time, effort, and expense that went into its refurbishing a few years ago. What was supposed to have been a thriving recreational area for our citizens both in summer and winter months in retrospect turned out to be an expensive mistake. The weeds are now more lush than ever without any preventative liner at the bottom, and the continuously-flowing spring prevents the ice from safely freezing over in the winter. Although some residents do swim there in the summer months, it is not at the levels that were envisioned by the planners.
From 1914 to 1957, Albion’s residents swam at "Dutchtown," located in the Kalamazoo River on S.S Hannah St. just south of the Albion College athletic field. You can still see remains of the swimming area there today, located by the small dam which is located there. We have previously written about Dutchtown in this column.
In the May 17 edition of this column we mentioned the 1939 "Sanitary Survey" of Albion, and its writer, student George G. Fassnacht. Regarding the Dutchtown swimming area he writes: (Pg. 22) : "The bathing area…while not perfect, still has its merits. A stretch of the Kalamazoo River with very low current has been improved. The water flows about three feet deep over a sandy bottom. It is dark colored, coming from marshy country…."
"A new roof was put on the bath house but the floor is about to fall through. Attendants, under the direction of the Recreation Department, do their best to keep the place clean although they don’t have much to work on. A new floor which can be disinfected is much to be desired. At our suggestion, they stopped using road salt which was furnished them by the city for a germicide."
"The old cast iron stools were used last year without water as privy seats, dropping directly into the tail water of the dam. This year they were moved up against the bath house and provided with running water and a length of sewer pipe. They are still unclean and uncleanable."
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a real treat. From this 1939 report we present a nice good quality photograph of the Dutchtown swimming site including the bathhouse! This is the first such photo I have ever seen. As an added bonus, we also present from that same report, a photograph of the girl’s toilet there. Remember you saw it first here in this column. Notice the newly added continuous waterspout which helped transport the material directly into the Kalamazoo River below. In banking terms, that would be known as "direct deposit." How many of our readers remember swimming at "Dutchtown?"
the Dutchtown swimming site including the bathhouse
1939 Girl's toilet at Dutchtown bathhouse
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic