More About The Glendale Swimming Pool
Story furnished by Clarence Crocker

Although I included a brief article about the swimming pool in the Glendale Sports and Recreation story which was put on the web-site in 2010, for history sake, I feel the time has come for “the rest of the story” as I remember.

Built in the mid 1930s for the community but referred to as “The Boy Scout’s Swimming Pool”, the project was the brainstorm and one of the ongoing projects of Mr. Lindsay Swofford in improving the environmental and recreational facilities of the Glendale Community. Mr. Swofford was the Bookkeeper/Paymaster at Glendale Mills at the time. He was a affable gentlemen with the best interest of the village and its people at heart. He did much toward its improvements in the early 1900s and was instrumental in getting the Scouts into Glendale.

Luckily, the Civilian Conservation Corp had been created in April 1933 along with the Work’s Progress Administration in 1935. Known as the CC Camps and the WPA, both had been organized to give jobs to the masses of unemployed citizens resulting from the great depression and the nations financial collapse of the early thirties. The first requirement of the programs was that the applicant must be an American citizen. The CCs paid $30 per month along with food and clothing and a compulsory allotment of 22 to 25 dollars per month being sent to a dependent to aid in meeting needs of the family. The WPA paid according to local pay scale with the monthly pay ranging between 19 to 94 dollars per month (Wikipedia)

Their projects included state and national infrastructures such as roads, bridges, parks, environmental projects such as planting of trees, shrubs, soil conservation and other like projects. It was according to this policy that Mr. Swofford was able to engage them in the public works at Glendale. Not only was the pool built but he was instrumental in getting hundreds of trees and shrubs planted in the area, some soil erosion stopped and a side walk built down Broadway in the village in beautification and environmental projects.  

The swimming pool, which I visited a few times while under construction, was located inside a large wooded pasture area which had been enclosed by the Mill Company with wire fencing. For a small fee, residents of the village were allowed to put their cattle in the pasture to stay and feed. The park area which included the pool, picnic tables, barbeque pits and a tennis court, was located in a large flat grassy meadow of the pasture. Fences kept the cattle out of the park area. It was a beautiful place. Various games were also played in the meadow. 

The Spartanburg/Glendale/Clifton Trolley tracks separated the pasture from the mill village. Walk through gates to the pasture and pool area were located at the end of Bishop Hill, Carline and Clifton Street and I suppose other locations. An entrance for automobiles and small trucks with no gate was located directly behind the new Community cemetery. A pipe bridge was built to prevent the cattle from getting out. The bridge was about 10 feet wide with steel pipes laid parallel and spaced some 4 or 5 inches apart to prevent the cattle from getting out. One could walk across the bridge but was discouraged to do so lest their foot slip between the pipes, seriously injuring their foot or leg. 

The pool was fed by spring water which was very cold. A plunge into the pool could wipe out the heat of a July or August day in about 2 seconds. One could go in perspiring and come out with goose bumps. The pool which began with a shallow area for children and wading, continued to deepen until it reached the dam at which point it was about 10 to 12 feet deep. I have no exact measurements of the pool but would guess it to have been about 50 to 60 feet wide and about 150 to 200 feet long. 


A diving board was located at the dam and a bath house called by many “the wash house”, was located at the side. The pool had concrete walls with a gray sand/dirt, rocky bottom. A concrete gang plant was located at each side of the dam which allowed swimmers to walk up out of the water rather than trying to climb out over the bank walls.

On the back side of the pool was a sloped grassy bank on which swimmers would lie either on blankets or the grass for sun bathing. On numerous occasions I saw the bank lined with sunbathers. Of course many dove into the pool from the banks on both sides of the pool. Below the dam was a small water wheel and generator house in which power for lights and pumps was generated. I believe the wheel was about 6 or 8 feet in diameter. This only lasted a short while due to pilferage and vandalism. 

It was possible for one to drive a car down into the upper end of the meadow if one so desired but a large parking area was provided on the hill above. A long set of concrete/rock steps were built up the hill side from the meadow to the parking area. Though quite a large number of men were employed during the construction, Elmer Willis, a local man who had joined the CC Camp, built the steps and had much to do in building the park and it’s amenities. Incidentally, he served as Scout Master of the local Scout Troop for many years. It was this writers privilege to serve as his assistant in the late 40s and early 50s. 

Though the pool was built for local residents, people from nearby areas frequented the park. I remember large crowds gathering at the pool on warm summer sunny days. A day was set aside especially for the ladies and girls. The pool was used by the Glendale Pentecostal Holiness Church as a Baptismal pool. During the hours of their service all swimming was prohibited.

Built at a time when the effects of the depression was still lingering and leisure was abundant, the pool was a popular place to spend time, relax and swim away one’s troubles. Some carrying their picnic baskets, spent most of the day in the area. After a few years when more jobs became available and more schooling was taking place, leisure time of youth and adults alike became more scarce, interest in and attention to the pool began to wan. Industry beginning to work three shifts, labor unrest, the threats of liabilities, pilferage and vandalism becoming rampant, the mill and it’s properties changing management and the war hovering over the nation, were all contributing factors to the closure of the pool in the late 1940s. Today the park area is a jungle of scrubs, trees, vines, crumbling walls, broken steps, a broken dam and a place of fond memories. 

We are grateful to Gerald and Kenneth Quinn for pictures which they made recently of the area. Gerald and Kenneth are natives of Glendale and were the sons of the late Mr. Will and Mrs. Alice Quinn. Mr. Quinn was mill and village Policeman for many years. Both worked with this writer at Glendale Mills while they were still in school. (Click for the pictures and additional information about the pool).

The sad note of the swimming pool story is that unfortunately, Mr. Swofford who had done so much for the community and was the integrator of building the pool, was severely injured in the late thirties. Textile union organization was at full throttle. Some union activists seeking to unionize Glendale Mills caught Mr. Swofford outside his office, picked him up, manhandled him and if I remember correctly, they then dropped him on his back seriously injuring him. He retired and died at the age of 54 some 3 or 4 years thereafter. Unable to locate any of his family relatives, I have been unable to establish if those injuries contributed to his death but I rather suspect that they did, at least in some way. 

Mr. Lindsay Swofford died in the St. Luke’s Hospital in Tryon, N. C. His obituary published in the Spartanburg Herald and Journal on July 22, 1941 stated that he had served as Bookkeeper/Paymaster at Glendale Mills, a Division of D. E. Converse Co, for 17 years. He was survived by his wife, Mrs. Ola Mills Swofford; three sons, George, Robert and Donald Swofford, all of Tryon; his father, McK Swofford of Spruce Pine, N. C.; the following sisters and brothers, Mrs. M. E. Caldwell, Campobello, S. C., Mrs. Fate Chapman, Maryville, Tenn., Mrs. Jess Worley, Spruce Pine, Mrs. Clarence Stevens, Compton, Calif., Mrs. J. B. Costelloe, Greenville, S. C., Mrs. Alge Johnson, Chesnee, S. C., Ira Swofford, Knoxville, Tenn., Fate Swofford and Lucius Swofford, of Spruce Pine, and J. W. Swofford, Chesnee, S. C.

Funeral services were held at Floyd’s Mortuary in Spartanburg, S. C. with interment following in the Greenlawn Memorial Gardens. Pallbearers were; R. F. Bagwell, H. B. White, Deck Murray, W.F. Rogers, R. B. Fuller and C. A. Thrasher. Mr. Swofford had many friends in Glendale who were deeply saddened by his injury and death. 

My appreciation to George Hunter for supplying the pictures of him and Elmond Sams in the pool in 1947.

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