These are the “Dog Days” in East Tennessee, days made for a dip in the backyard or community pool. Some fortunate folks will cruise the lake in their boats or churn the water with jet skis.
But, ask those from the Concord/Farragut area old enough to remember the 1950s and 1960s how they kept their cool in the summer and they will probably recall the good times they had at the Concord Pool.
In earlier days, Concord youth enjoyed swimming in Sinking Creek or at the creek south of the water wheel dam at the Hackney Mill on Concord Road. But in July 1940, TVA began construction of the Fort Loudoun Dam which required purchasing 16,200 acres of land and flowage rights.
Six cemeteries, 317 residents and over 60 miles of roads had to be relocated. In 1945 the backwaters of the new lake inundated Concord village south of the railroad. TVA built a park complete with picnic areas, launching areas for boats, and the Concord Pool which opened to the public in 1946.
For the first three years of its existence, water to fill the pool was pumped from the new Fort Loudoun Lake. The late Barbara Hall Beeler said that every Sunday night the pool was emptied, washed down and refilled for opening on Monday.
In 1949, Knox County made a vital improvement by installing filters to purify the water. The county soon added a concession stand next to the bathhouse. Later improvements included a large concrete area with a jukebox for dancing and entertainment.
Joe Kimsey was the first manager of the pool, hired for the 1946-1947 seasons. At first, attendance was scanty, and Kimsey tried various advertising gimmicks.
According to Beeler, he tried “putting gasoline on the surface of the water, setting it on fire, then diving through it from the high board. It was not certain just how many new customers were gained from his daredevil stunt, but it was known that he singed the hair on his head and chest. He definitely did not try that stunt again! Next came the goldfish in the pool. Catch a fish and win a prize. That one didn’t prove successful either as Joe’s employees were the only ones catching the fish.”
But after that first year, everyone knew about the new “swimming hole.” The pool became quite the place to be in the summer for Farragut, Bearden, Karns and Lenoir City high school students, as well as students from the University of Tennessee.
Later pool managers included Bill Clabo (Farragut High School football coach) 1968, Frank Hall 1969-1973 and J.A. Beeler in 1974. In 1980, Knox County began managing the pool until it closed for good on Labor Day in 2006. By then other pools in the area had cut into attendance and operating costs exceeded proceeds.
Since the county partnered with PetSafe to convert land once home to the pool to a dog park, all that remains of Concord Pool are the memories. Fittingly, during these “Dog Days” our “best friends” have water access from a dock in the park as well as pet showers. Stay cool this summer folks!
This article was written with special memories of Barbara Hall Beeler. The pictures are courtesy of the J.A. Beeler family and the Farragut Museum.