People with fond memories of Garden City’s Big Pool, once billed as the world’s largest free, concrete, municipal swimming pool, may want to stop by the Finney County Historical Museum as part of their holiday shopping.
The museum’s gift shop is offering commemorative Big Pool T-shirts in two styles, as well as nostalgic 2021 calendars featuring approximately 45 photographs from the pool’s 97-year history.
The 8.5 by 17-inch grid-style wall calendars are $15 each and the quantity is limited. The picture page for each month includes a different collection of pool images, showing swimming, diving and poolside lounging, as well as people sailing, water skiing, paddle boating and ice skating on the pool surface. There is also at least one view of elephants from Lee Richardson Zoo frolicking in the water.
The calendars were produced with sponsorship support from the Finney County Farm Bureau Association, Heritage Realty and Garden City State Bank.
The T-shirts include one type with a mid-20th Century image of a woman gracefully diving into the pool, underwritten by the phrase “World’s Largest Free Swimming Pool, Garden City, Kansas.” The other shirt style is fronted with the phrase “I Swam in the World’s Largest Free Swimming Pool,” and a collection on the back of Big Pool statistics and specifications.
The shirts range in price from $20 to $26 and both styles were reproduced from designs first issued in decades past.
Interest in the Big Pool’s history has surged recently, particularly after work began in 2020 to replace the historic swimming facility with a state-of-the-art outdoor water park to be known as Garden Rapids at the Big Pool. Conceived by Garden City Mayor H.O. Trenkle in 1921, the 72,600 square-foot pool operated from July of 1922 through the summer of 2019.
The store is located inside the museum’s main exhibit gallery, where hours are 1-5 p.m. seven days weekly. The gift shop also carries a wide range of gifts, toys, souvenirs, collectibles, other apparel, books and videos related to Garden City, Finney County and Southwest Kansas history and culture. Gift certificates are available and the store accepts cash, local checks, major credit cards and Garden City Chamber Checks. The museum is located at 403 S. Fourth Street in Garden City’s Finnup Park, adjacent to the zoo entry arches.