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A Swimming Hole: 1904

A Swimming Hole: 1904

Duluth, Minnesota, circa 1904. "A swimming hole, Lester Park." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Cliff jumping at the Deeps!

Cliff jumping at the Deeps! 106 years later, this looks exactly the same, and is still a close retreat for people from the neighborhood. When I was a college student in Duluth, this was the best way to cool off on hot, lazy summer days. In fact, my brothers just went there yesterday!

For those of you who have never been, nothing beats a summer in Duluth. It's beautiful!

Lester River

I believe the photo was taken at the Shallows, along the east branch of the Lester River near Lester Park golf course. The "Day at the Deeps" video was shot at the Deeps, on the west branch of the Lester, also known as Amity Creek.

Been there, done that

Growing up in Indiana near White River, we often skinny dipped. We were banned from ever going near a quarry. Still had fun jumping of a 15 foot cutbank and sinking to the bottom with a huge chunk of mud in our arms.

Summers in Minnesota

My dad told stories of swimming in the summer in Minnesota. He came from a family of 15 and lived a little ways off an river in the 1920s. The boys had a spot on the river for skinny dipping and the girls had a spot farther down stream for the same. He said after swimming they would jump on the neighbor's horses and ride bareback through the fields. The gypsies also camped close by.

Only one thing missing

Mud for a good mudball fight.

Top Man

Looks an awful lot like our very own Mr. Terrace, or maybe his grampa. Get much sun?

The ol' swimmin' hole

When I was a kid we didn't have anything that spectacular, but we did have Cow Creek and it worked just fine.

"View full size"

You just know what the PO'd lookin dude is thinking -- "A hundred years from now, there better not be an Internet!"


We didn't go swimming here, but used to go camping with my mom's youngest brother and would swim in a similar quarry with a bit of a cliff in western New York. We didn't bother with swimsuits either, and this was in the 1970s. There was a little bit of embarrassment until you hit the water and then you just kind of forgot about being nekkid (even when you climbed back out to jump in). It was all very innocent.


Either girls weren't allowed or these guys were too young to care.

I wonder

Every time I see an old picture of kids I wonder what became of them. Did they survive childhood? Get killed in the war? Children and grandchildren of their own? It would be neat if their ancestors could identify the picture and fill us in.

A Bracing Dip

I just love the look on the face of the boy entering the water in front of the waterfall. Swimming in fresh spring waters I've seen it many times. it says "COOOOLD!"

I'm surprised

I'm surprised, not that some of them aren't wearing swimsuits, but that some of them are. I was given to believe that at the old swimmin' hole, you just took off your clothes and jumped in. Clearly, the truth was something different.

Blissfully unattended

What I find remarkable about this photo is that there's nary an anxious, hand-wringing parent in sight.

"Christopher, come out of there this instant, before you break your skull on those rocks!"

"Water moccasins can swim, Jason. Now get dressed and come home right now!"

"You just ate lunch, Ryan. Do you want to get cramps and drown?!"

Childhood was probably more hazardous in those days. And probably more fun.


Being in Minnesota and all, that water is cold! Obviously.


I was expecting rented bathing suits up to the neck.

I can't help but wonder if they felt they were being naughty, way back in 1904, or if we have just become sensitized from all the full body bathing suits we have seen on Shorpy.

Still there

Swimsuits no longer optional.


Do you know what they do in Minnesota in the summer? If it falls on a Sunday, they go swimming! (Oh, I slay myself.)

Where the Boys Are

No doubt.


You mean boys used to go swimming in the local quarries without those woolen bathing costumes they had to rent at Coney Island and Atlantic City? Why, I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

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