Deep Eddy Pool – Cool Texas Pools
The average summer temperature in Texas is about 97℉. That’s hot. But on some days the temperature can reach into the 100s. The record high for a San Antonio, Texas September is 111℉. That’s even hotter.
Texans know how bad the heat can get. If you grew up in Texas, you probably also know how to beat the heat pretty well. Before the days of air conditioning, Texas residents had to be creative when keeping cool. Thankfully, Mother Nature is on our side and offers plenty of great spots to cool off during the scorching Texas summer.
Texas Pools to the Rescue
Swimming pools are becoming a fixture for suburban homeowners and apartment dwellers alike. Most modern apartments have a family pool free for resident use. Homeowners are installing their own personal pools on their properties as it becomes more affordable.
But it wasn’t always that way. Before pools became so accessible, overheating Texans had to search out nature’s bounty of natural water. Texas may be dry, but it has no shortage of natural swimming pools that are among some of the best places to cool off in the world.
Deep Eddy Brings the Cold
Deep Eddy Pool provides recreational swimming for families that live in Austin. You’ll find it nestled off of the bank of the Colorado River and the Missouri Pacific Railway in Austin. It’s modern appearance looks almost nothing like the way it has looked historically. It has seen many evolutions throughout its life, but it actually began as a simple watering hole. The bank of the Colorado River formed an eddy that provides a safe haven for swimmers who don’t want to get caught up in the river current.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons
What is an Eddy Anyway?
Sailors and fishermen may know it well, but eddy isn’t a layman’s term. An eddy is a pool of fresh natural water formed when flowing water meets an immovable obstacle. The water has to begin flowing in another direction when it meets the obstacle because of pressure from the current. Once the water is pushed by the current, it no longer flows in the same direction. The forward flow of the current meets with the reverse flow past the obstacle. It pushes the water in a different direction, creating a swirl.
The space in front of the object fills with water that doesn’t flow with the current. The water is also protected by the swirling water on either side of the obstacle. The swirls provide the area in front of the obstacle with constant fresh water. The still, circulating water is a perfect area for recreational swimming.
That’s Where Deep Eddy Pool Began
The history of Deep Eddy Pool goes further back than the beginning of civilization in Texas. Long ago, the bank at the Colorado River and Missouri Pacific junction housed an unusually large boulder. It acted as an obstacle that created an eddy just off of the land where people could swim. It didn’t take long for potential landowners to notice that the spot was popular and would make a great investment.
An investor with a vision came in and made serious changes in 1915. A.J. Eilers wanted to create an all-inclusive resort in which visitors could spend large amounts of time (and money). The Deep Eddy Bathing Beach would include all the amenities of a park alongside a man-made pool with natural water from the Colorado River. Eilers built cabins for overnight stays as well as a fully functional bathhouse. He also set up campsites where beachgoers could sleep in the wilderness. He included food and drink stands for his more affluent visitors.
More importantly, he transformed the natural eddy created by the boulder into a concrete swimming pool. To draw even more visitors, Eilers built attractions alongside the pool. Among the more popular ones was Lorena’s Diving Horse. The diving horse attraction had been a trendy show that started in the 1880s in which a horse and rider dive together from a high dive. Deep Eddy’s diving horse dove from a 50-foot-tall diving board into the Deep Eddy pool. Eilers even included a Ferris wheel at his park.
The Pool Sees Big Change
A huge flood in 1935 destroyed most of the park’s attractions and completely filled the pool with mud and remains. The City of Austin had purchased the pool and park just before the flood destroyed it and before the city broke ground on any improvements. Because of the massive cost of rebuilding the park in its entirety, the city opted to restore only the pool and bathhouse. They reopened the park as is in 1936.
Now open to the public, the park became a memorial to A.J. Eilers. The bathhouse fell out of use and turned into an exhibition center. The non-profit organization Friends of Deep Eddy, interested in conserving the history of Deep Eddy Pool, raised funds and restored the bathhouse to its original glory in 2007. The pool still uses natural water from a well and now includes an area for lap swimming and a shallow wading section for children. It is also used to train lifeguards and aquatics researchers as well as host numerous public events. A hike and bike trail leads from the pool to other Austin parks, and a dock connects boaters to Town Lake. A barbecue pit allows swimmers to host parties and barbecues for all-day fun.
Appreciating Texas Pools
If you’re outside of San Antonio and looking for a pool, dip your toes into Deep Eddy. Next time you visit, you can look around and see the history of Deep Eddy Pool with your own eyes. When you get to know the lengths that Texans have gone to stay cool in the searing summer air, you can appreciate the splendor of your own pool in the comfort of San Antonio.