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As It Was: Hot Springs Keep Klamath Falls Pool Warm All Winter

Steam rising next to the Klamath Falls A-Canal bike trail on winter mornings draws swimmers to the Ella Redkey Pool.

Unlike most outside municipal pools, the Ella Redkey Pool operates nearly year-around, thanks to heat from geothermal springs.  The pool will close this March for a month of renovations.  The hot springs also heat many Klamath Falls homes and buildings. 

Pool operations began in 1954 after a voter-approved levy for what was first called the “Klamath Falls Municipal Pool.”  The name changed 40 years later to honor a swimming proponent, Ella Redkey, who taught many children to swim.

The pool’s history carries the reputation of have been paid for by gambling dens and houses of prostitution in the town’s red-light district years ago.  It’s an exaggeration.

The Klamath County Museum has confirmed that the tax levy covered most of the pool’s cost, although  “revenues collected by the city from houses of prostitution ... went into a Civic Improvement Fund (that paid) about 6 percent of the cost of the swimming pool” and provided funds for other projects.  They included the city band, the armory, the community lounge, an audit and pay raises.

Sources: "Fun Facts About Klamath." Klamath County Museum. Herald and News, 28 Mar. 2012 [Klamath Falls, Ore.]; “Looking Back,” Herald and News, 22 Aug. 2015 [Klamath Falls, Ore.].

Pat Bushey wrapped up a 53-year professional, small-town newspaper career in 2018, after 47 years at the Klamath Falls Herald and News — 17 as managing editor. He also worked at the Tri-City (Wash.) Herald and the Walla Walla (Wash.) Union-Bulletin, where he spent a summer filling in as sports editor. Before that, he was sports editor at Everett (Wash.) High School and Washington State University. Bushey wrote many of the Herald and News editorials during his tenure, and almost all of those appearing in recent years.