In the Beginning...
The Pool at Blue Ridge Swim Club is a historic treasure. Built in 1913 by R. Warner Wood, the Blue Ridge Pool was the centerpiece of Blue Ridge Camp, established in 1909. The camp was founded by Wood, a University of Virginia graduate with a Master’s degree in Greek and History and a firm believer in developing both mind and body. According to his 1918 brochure, Blue Ridge Camp offered “symmetrical, physical, mental, moral and social development in boys, along with plenty of healthful, natural fun.” Boys slept in tents on the property and activities included swimming, calisthenics, boxing, wrestling, baseball, football and track.
Wood and his friends chose a spot where a spring fed the stream to build the pool. He is said to have hired an engineer who had worked on the Panama Canal to design the water flow system, which brings water from the stream into a nearby settling tank, where the silt separates from the water. The same system continues to supply water to the Pool today. Photos from the era show the boys swimming and canoeing in the Pool.
1919 through 1944
In 1919, Wood decided to sell the property, and it was purchased along with over 200 acres by Allen and Pauline White. The Whites owned and operated the Pool from 1919 to 1944. The few extant photos from those years show diving boards atop wooden scaffolding on the deep end of the Pool as well as wide open farm fields beyond the creek. A 1937 color film shows extremely clear and blue water. Bathhouses were built on the west side of the Pool’s deep end, clearly shown in several of the photos.