Summer fun was easy to find again this year.
Local folks can always count on one special place to relax.
The Dreamland Pool in Kenova is a summer staple for Cabell and Wayne County residents, and has been for 91 years.
Almost the proverbial “last stop” before U.S. 60 in West Virginia enters Kentucky, the swimming pool has attracted sun beat swimmers for generations.
Between its baby blue hues and curved buildings, a dive in the pool almost feels like a dive into to a different era. Or better yet, straight into an Archie comic.
Here are five things that make the Dreamland Swimming Pool a timeless relic:
1. Back when it was opened in 1926, it was the biggest swimming pool east of the Mississippi.
J.D. Booth, a local ice maker, decided to open the pool after he needed to find a business that would use the excess water from his ice.
How much ice was Mr. Booth making? Enough to fill a 250 feet by 125 feet long pool all summer!
2. It wasn’t just a pool.
When the Dreamland Pool opened, Booth built a three-story pavilion that ran alongside the 250 foot long pool.
Now this wasn’t a Rotary Club basket bingo type pavilion. It was a stage for some of the biggest acts of the 1930s and 1940s.
Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman are all said to have played there.
3. The Dreamland Pool has had its nightmares.
Many who remember the Dreamland Pool as a place of fond childhood memories may be surprised to hear its had some dark spots in its history.
In 1936, founder J.D. Booth and his wife tragically died in a suicide-murder on a hot summer day in their home next to the pool. The pool would remain in the family until 1949.
Just a year prior to the sale of the pool to the city of Kenova in 1974, the pool’s majestic pavilion caught on fire and was burned to the ground. Three youths were charged in connection with the fire and other arsons in the area.
4. The community saved this pool.
Despite turning 91 years old this year, the pool looks pretty good for its age—thanks to a face lift in 2015. And that’s because the folks in and around Kenova love this pool.
When faced with $250,000 in repairs, Marathon Petroleum (across the bridge in Cattletsburg, Kentucky), the Kenova Rotary Club, and the Hamer Foundation (a primarily Pennsylvania based charity)kicked in enough cash to get it done and then some.
The effort to save the pool also saw support from community members. The pool enjoyed a short season that year, opening on July 4.
5. People love this pool.
Summers in the Ohio River Valley can get downright sweltering. It’s no surprise to see the heat index approaching 100 degrees or more on an August afternoon.
But stop by Dreamland, and see for yourself just how much people like to cool off there. At $4 for an adult, it’s a very affordable visit.
Locals of all ages crowd into the Olympic-sized pool, with room to spare for one another. Teenagers jump off the island at the deep-end of the pool; toddlers wade in the kiddie pool.
And another thing: Everyone is smiling.