This is an examination of Early Bathhouses & Waterslide and similar facilities on Lake Okabena in Worthington, MN based upon early postcards & photographs
Pre-1899: These early Public Facilities existed where Sailboard beach now exists on West Lake Okabena before 1899(Click on a photo to see more detail)
Gentle sloping beach prior to 1900
1899 - 1900 Development of Rock Island RR Tracks along Shoreline
Rock Island Tracks built in 1900
Pink Quartz RR Base
In 1900 the shoreline from about the base of Second Avenue to the junction with 7th Avenue along what we know now as Sailboard Beach changed. It changed forever with the laying of the Rock Island RR track. The RR built the base for their RR tracks between Lake Street and the shoreline. This required them to change the gentle sloping sand beach. They built up the shoreline height near the shoreline so that they had enough horizontal space between the street and the waterline to operate the trains. They also needed to fortify the track from lake waves and spring ice out.
As of 1900 any Pavilions, boathouses, bathhouses, waterslides, or other structures that may have existed along the north shore of the lake were removed to make room for the construction of the Burlington Rock Island Railroad track along the shoreline. The Rock Island track remained there until into the late 1900's at which time it became a narrow, shoreline city park.
1900 - 1905 No Bathhouses & Waterslides
No Bathhouses as of 1903 Flood
No Bathhouses & Waterslides existed as of 1903 in the area of the dam
1905 - : These are the three basic designs of the Bathhouse & Waterslide facilities that were developed sometime around 1905 (Click on a photo to see more detail)
First Design: One story - long building
Second Design: One story - steep roof
Third Design: Two story - open only top level
The development of the Bathhouses &
Waterslides ( 1905 )was approximately at the same time as the Chautauqua
Movement got started ( 1905 ) and brought alot of people to Lake Okabena in the
summers for recreation
Why were the Bathhouse & Waterslide Facilities located on the NE side of Lake Okabena?
c. US Hwy 16 or old road to/from Luverne prior to Hwy 16)
There was a fee to belong to this Association.
One of the early postcards includes a number of people who probably are the members of the Worthington Bath House Association at that time. They are posing there in street clothes ( some even wearing hats ), not wearing swimming apparel as would be the case if this were a photo of swimmers using the facilities. This group posing in street clothes suggests this is a membership photo.
scan10028.jpg - Possible Bath House Association members posing by facility
Newspaper articles at that time about the Bathhouses & Waterslides (provided by Terri Mindock)
From The Worthington Advance-Herald,
Friday September 18, 1908:
"A social dance was given at the bath house pavilion last Wednesday night by the young folks of the village. It was an informal affair and was fairly well attended. Messrs. Mackay and May furnished excellent music for the occasion."
Friday September 18, 1908:
"The boats were all removed from the pavilion Monday, as the boating season is about over. The bath house, however, will be open after four o'clock each afternoon and on Saturdays as long as the weather will permit."
June 26, 1908
The bath house was opened for the season last Monday, with Geo. Kunzman as superintendent. The new pavilion above the bath house is completed and furnishes accommodations for a large number of spectators.
May 14, 1909
A special meeting of the Bath House Association will be held at the Firemen's hall this evening at eight o'clock for the purpose of disposing of the new private bath rooms. Other business is also to come up for consideration.
July 2, 1909
Nels N. Nelson will run the stand in the bath house pavilion during the present season. Mr. Lloyd Clabough, of Jackson will be in charge. Mr. Nelson will give a series of dances in the pavilion each night during Chautauqua, and if the young folks desire it a number of dances will be given during the season.
Aug 6, 1909
Mr. and Mrs. F.L. Keith, Will Wilbert and Miss Lena Kleveter, of Reading, drove down Wednesday evening to enjoy a plunge in the lake and to shoot the chutes.
Aug 13, 1909
Messrs. Randall Hough, B.S. Garberson, Pat Carey, Raymond Bahne, and Doctors G.E. Dickson and E. Dietrish, came up from Sibley Friday afternoon and partook of bathing at Lake Okabena and shooting the chutes until the next train, when they returned home. They stated that it was their intention to come up every other day for a plunge in the lake.
Aug 20, 1909
L.A. Gregory's orchestra, consisting of three pieces with the leader as violinist, Carl Cowin, clarinet, and Miss Robinette Scheier, pianist, came over from Adrian Wednesday to play for the dance at the bath house pavilion that evening.
Jan 21, 1910
Wednesday evening the members of the Bath House association met at the Firemen's hall and elected the following committee for the ensuing year: W.B. Stoutemeyer, Lee M. Shell, Dr. Ray Humiston, Dr. E.C. Dieckhoff and W.M. Evans. A balance of $122.72 is in the treasury and all outstanding debts paid. There are at present about seventy members in good standing in the association.
Jan 28, 1910
Chas. Chermack was injured severely, while assisting in the ice industry at the lake. He was on the chute, endeavoring to shove a cake of ice along, when another cake came gliding along the chute and caught his knee between the two chunks. As a result he was laid up for a few days but is again able to be about.
Bob may be contacted at