Saturday, March 14, 2009

Granite Dells Bathing Lake

This shot of the swimming pool at Granite Dells has to be as nostalgic for any one else who grew up in, or around Prescott in the forties or fifties as it is for me! This shot shows the bath house and further back on the left, the dance hall. There was a big slide right across from the bath house at this shallow end of the pool. Out of the picture in the lower left corner was a bridge that led to an island that featured the diving boards. A big cotton rope dangled from a tree along the walk so you could swing out to drop into the water.
click to enlarge


This pool was created by enhancing a natural lake that was frequented by campers and people picnicing as early as 1884. By the early 1900's, people were able to take a special train that would drop them for the day and also provided a return trip to town.

The original homesteaders were the Wings, ancestors of the Payne family and I believe they are the ones who built a flourishing resort here in the early 1900s. That building burned down, and the buildings you see here were built by the Payne grandsons after World I. There was also a two story resort hotel. I have no memory of that building in the forties or fifties. Does anyone else remember it or any ruins of it?




According to Melissa Ruffner in Prescott: A Pictorial History, "Over the years, Granite Dells Resort boasted the first lawn bowling alley in the territory,a roller skating rink and dancing to the "big band" sounds of groups like the Prescott Playboys.From the 1920's through the 1950's, more than 20,000 people visited the Dells annually. The Red cross held a training camp for it's instructors each year in May, and the area was also used by the Arizona Girl Reserves and the YMCA for summer encampments."

The movie Leave Her to Heaven, staring Cornel Wilde, Gene Tierney, and Jeanne Crain was filmed here in 1945. I've rented that movie and tried to recognize any landmark in it to no avail.

In the early days the Dells provided both excellent cover and abundant water for elusive hostile Indians. They would sweep out from this safe haven to attack early settlers passing by on their way into town.

Jarat of the Prescott Area Daily Photo has a picture of the way things look now.

12 comments:

  1. I was very young the time our family -- grandparents, aunts, uncles & my mom, dad & little bro picnicked at the Dells, meaning, of course, the swimming lake. I vaguely recall the bathhouse. For a long part of my early life, Prescott was synonymous with Granite Dells in my mind! Thanks for these pictures.

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  2. GJ, you are so welcome! I think a lot of "summer" folks from Phoenix made the Dells a main stop. One of the figures I ran acoss was 20,000 people a year frequented the resort complex.

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  3. Such wonderful memories. I too was a yearly visitor of the Dells...it was magical.

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  4. I see you wrote about the Prescott Playboys, my grandfather was in that band. I was wondering if you knew any of the other band members and if they were still alive. There is a new band around Prescott called the Prescott Playboys but none of them know or have heard of the one from the 50's. Would be great to learn a little more about the original Prescott, AZ Prescott Playboys.

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  5. Thanks for all the great nostalgic info. My husband, Don Peterson, grew up in Prescott and has many fond memories of the Dells.

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  6. I remember swimming at Granite Dells with my six brothers and sisters in the 1960's. There were some giant inner tube platforms that we would jump from, I think. It really was a magical place. I wonder why there is no swimming there anymore.

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  7. There were other buildings from early days across highway 89 that I only learned about as they were being surrounded by construction. I was told at that time that there used to be big events and dances there many years before, but that it had fallen into disuse.

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  8. There were other buildings from early days across highway 89 that I only learned about as they were being surrounded by construction. I was told at that time that there used to be big events and dances there many years before, but that it had fallen into disuse.

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  9. I'm not familiar with its history but it impresses me. The uniquely eroded appearance of the granite bedrock etc. along with the scattered vegetation growing out of or next to it is intriguing and beautiful.
    I recall seeing it in John Wayne movies as well as Tex Ritter ones, but can't recall which ones from so long back.
    The hard look is softened by the green plants/trees and against the clear blue skies I can imagine native Indian horsemen and others on foot, bow and arrow and pitch axe in hand. I can see them jump from rock to rock and hide behind the greenery as they worked their way down.
    That's just me. Not sure what others get out of it.

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  10. Sigh. Friend Christine King clicked reported me to the Admin on my findings tonight!

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  11. Need to post this mistake..???

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