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The Riverside Pool, located on seven acres of land on the west bank of the Leon River in Belton, Texas, was built in 1920 and served as a favorite gathering spot for generations of Bell County families. [Prior to becoming the site of a swimming pool, the area was home to Belton's first ice factory, established in 1875.] Billed as the largest swimming pool between Austin and Lake Worth and between Galveston and Brownwood, Riverside Pool spanned the generations for almost seventy years. When the pool closed, developer D. S. Glory of Los Angeles spent about two million dollars to refurbish the pool and park. Riverside Swimming Pool became Summer Fun USA.

Riverside Swimming Pool

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Riverside Swimming Pool, 1960s

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Riverside Swimming Pool, 1960s

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Riverside Swimming Pool, 1960s

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Ad for Riverside Pool

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In 1920 the Riverside Swimming Pool Company sold $300 shares to finance the building of a swimming pool and park. The total cost was about $12,000. W. C. Knight was chosen as trustee, and manager and trustees were O. L. Vaden, Herbert Cale, T. A. Neal, and Dr. Lee Knight. The organizers told the Temple Daily Telegram in October 1920, "We have purchased seven acres of land on the west bank of the Leon River between the Interurban Line and the Temple-Belton Pike. We will begin work on a big concrete pool 75 x 150 feet with beautiful pecan trees along the bank of the river for 500 yards.” Rains delayed the planned June 1st opening until July 18, 1921.

Four brick wheel tracks carried Model T cars out to Riverside, the only outdoor swimming pool in Belton at that time. In 1921 adult admission was thirty cents, eight cents of which went for bathing suit, towel, and dressing room service, and two cents for war tax. Riverside was really two pools separated by a midriff wall of cement, a large main pool and a smaller baby pool. A seven-foot diving board, an island platform for sunning, a water slide, and seven rings on which swimmers could swing their way across the water were especially popular with youngsters. Local resident, W. H. Robinson, recalled his family bringing bacon and eggs and cooking supper out by the river bank where picnic tables were located.

In 1936, the following advertisement touted the amenities of the pool: "The large pool is filled with thousands of gallons of pure, fresh Artesian water flowing in and out continuously and changed completely every day. The walls and floor of the pool are thoroughly disinfected with chlorine every other day." Although the Artesian waters eventually became a thing of the past, the pool was unique in that it was drained every other Sunday night and the sides washed down. The little baby pool was washed every day and water added. The infusion of new water was pumped from Riverside's private 40-foot well and took 16-18 hours to refill the pool with 750,000 gallons of new water with a minimum amount of chlorine. Oldtimers claim that the change of water set Riverside apart from other outdoor pools, and throughout its history, the water was always clean and refreshing.

The pool suffered through hard times even during its heyday. In the 1950s floodwaters from the Leon River overflowed into the area. During the 1960s a trash fire from a neighboring lot spread to the wooden bathhouse which went up in flames. The fire jumped into the pool, engulfing the wooden treadmill which in turn knocked down part of the pool wall when it collapsed. The treadmill and water merry-go-round were destroyed. According to Billy Blair who frequented the pool in the 1960s and 1970s, a "Putt Putt" golf course was located immediately west of the swimming pool building; it was eventually torn down.  

Riverside Pool changed owners several times in its history. An ad in the Austin American-Statesman of March 20, 1925, offered the pool for sale by Dr. L. Knight: "Riverside Swimming Pool near Temple and Belton on street car line and main highway. Modernly equipped in every say. 2 flowing Artesian wells, 2 cottages, laundry building, 300 bathing suits, 12 acres of ground, fine pecan orchard and quarter mile river front for camping. Not run down but enjoying good business. Reason for selling death of owner and manager. Big money maker for good manager." It was later owned by Richard and Martha Meyer. Richard was a lifeguard at the pool in the 1940s long before he dreamed of owning the pool.

By 1989, the pool had been closed for more than a year and was being remodeled as Summer Fun USA. The pool was expanded to 200 feet in length with a kiddie pool at one end. Forty-foot towers supported body and tube slides that twisted and turned down to a specially designed pond. The Lazy River meandered the grounds, carrying swimmers on inner tubes. Lou Manzella purchased the water park in 2004, and invested $30,000 installing new safety features, party rooms, and covered pavilions. Summer Fun Water Park continues to serve local people who like to have fun close to home.

Clark, Harper Scott. 20 Years of Summer Fun. Temple, TX.: Temple Daily Telegram online, April 6, 2009.

Owens, Carole Fry. Pool Splashes Into 63rd Year With Memories. Belton, TX. :The Belton Journal, May 5, 1983, p. 1.

The Family History of Billy Blair.

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The Family History of Billy Blair

The Family History of Billy Blair

The Family History of Billy Blair

The Family History of Billy Blair

Belton Journal, 7.21.1927