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A mysterious Bluffton place: Floating pool in the Buckeye

By Fred Steiner

The world’s oceans hold many secrets. Sea monsters, sunken treasure and ghost ships fill our imagination with what’s below the surface of the mighty deep.

These great ponds do not, however, hold ownership to all watery mysteries. Surrounded by the Big and Little Rileys and several seemingly bottomless quarries, what Bluffton lacks in sea monsters, it makes up with mysteries held below its own waterlines.

The Buckeye takes but does not give back

Its selfish stories tell of people who drown and those who almost drown.

Its selfish stories include horses that drowned while standing on its wintery frozen surface. Those horses, in the 1920s, tied to a wagon used to haul the ice, plunged to their tragic death and saddened the community as if they were personal friends.

It selfish waters contain the community’s vast collection of class rings, eye glasses, coins, jewelry and messages in bottles, lost by swimmers cursing the waters only to be laughed at by the unretrievable pit.

But of all the mysterious places in Bluffton, the Buckeye holds one sunken mystery vessel you never knew existed.

A floating pool once treaded its surface.

Here’s the story: ­­

The first question always asked is, “How did it float without sinking?” Answer: It had many very large floating oil drums tied to it.

The second-most asked question’s answer is found at the bottom of this story.

As a disclaimer, we lack some of the pool’s important details. We don’t know the exact construction date nor the date of the final swim in this wooden monster. But, our search for answers continues.

Our best guess as a launch date is sometime in the 1930s. It served the community’s swimmers each summer until the early 1950s.

It was eventually replaced by another pool that also no longer exists.

Here’s a recollection of the pool from Anne McGinnis Parker, interviewed in the 1980s:

For those who do not remember the floating pools, also known as cribs, I’ll try to explain. The fresh spring water from the quarry was free to wash through the spaces between the boards on the sides and bottom. To cross the pool faster under way, we used to “pull cracks.” Hooking our fingertips on the floor boards to pull ourselves through the water.

Cross the short way was easy as the floor boards lay lengthwise. But to pull cracks lengthwise, you really had to slip your fingers far enough under the boards to get a grip. Some of the spaces were not was wide as others and we were always a bit afraid of getting trapped four feet under.

But it didn’t deter us from using this accelerated means of locomotion.

What became of the floating pool? Read the complete story and view several photos of the pool at

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