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Oklahoma's Own: Cool Down At Pawnee's Old Fashioned Swimming Hole

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The Pawnee Bath House water park is open every day. The Pawnee Bath House water park is open every day.
It's a great place for families to beat the triple-digit heat. It's a great place for families to beat the triple-digit heat.
The water park is near the historic bath house built by the Works Progress Administration. The water park is near the historic bath house built by the Works Progress Administration.
The sandstone WPA bath house was built in 1939 The sandstone WPA bath house was built in 1939
The Pawnee mayor calls the swimming hole Oklahoma's best kept secret. The Pawnee mayor calls the swimming hole Oklahoma's best kept secret.

Craig Day, News On 6

PAWNEE, Oklahoma -- With our triple digit temperatures, a lot of us are looking for ways to beat the heat. We have just the place for you if you're up to an inexpensive Oklahoma day trip.

About an hour from Tulsa, you'll find a place to splash down, to help you avoid the triple digit beat down.

Right next to Pawnee's city lake, you'll find the Pawnee Bath House water park. It's an old school swimming hole providing relief from the heat for decades.

"If you go down deep off the high dive or diving board, the cold water down at the bottom feels great," said Mason Keeling, Pawnee resident.

You can dive deep from platforms or boards at the two acre swimming lake. There's a slide and a whole lot more.

And it's all in a natural setting unlike any other.

"It's a best kept secret of Oklahoma," said Pawnee Mayor Brad Sewell.

It's unique, because you just don't find very many old fashioned swimming holes anymore.

"It's not as crowded out here usually. It's beautiful to look at and the water is nice," said Shelby Bear, a water park employee.

And then there's the WPA bath house built in 1939. The sandstone bath house overlooks the swimming hole. It was built to last, but closed in the 1970s, when people preferred the new city swimming pool in town.

But that swimming pool was expensive to operate and maintain, so city leaders looked at reopening this historic site. The community raised $85,000 for improvements to the bath house, like electric and plumbing.

The swimming area was cleaned up, and in 2003, the old favorite was new again.

"Usually you don't have to deal with crowds," Bear said. "And it is family oriented out here; you can bring your family, cook out, play volleyball - have a great time in the water."

Folks in Pawnee have known about the hot spot to cool down for generations. Now they're glad it will be enjoyed by generations to come, both by locals and those willing to take an Oklahoma day trip to a cool place to see, and a refreshing place to experience.

"It's just a real cheap and fun, an Oklahoma unique good time," said Mayor Sewell.

Admission is $2 per person. The Pawnee Bathhouse is one mile north of Pawnee on Highway 18.

It's open every day from 12:30 until 5:30, but it also stays open late - until eight on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

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