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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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DUBUQUE NATATORIUM. Natatoriums became popular in the 1880s in the United States. Andrew CARNEGIE spent $25,000 for a parcel of land in Duquesne, Pennsylvania in 1896 in preparation for the construction of a gymnasium and natatorium (swimming pool) for his employees. (1) The Omaha World Herald, stated in 1899 that it believed Omaha was the only city with more than 150,000 people which had neither a natatorium, free baths, or a decent bathing place. (2)

Dubuque boasted a natatorium as early as 1884. The site at 1035 Main and operated by C. H. McMaster allowed up to 200 people to use the facility which also had suspended rings and a "spring board." A wash tub was used to occasionally tow a timid person around before being dunked. In the evening, "Hud," the humorist jeweler, often leaped from the spring board "causing waves that almost touched the gallery. (3) New heating and a gymnasium were added in March, 1885. (4) Artesian well water was heated to 80 degrees. (5) Evening social swimming for men and women at the "Nat" were changed from Monday to Friday in August 1885. (6) Only season ticket holders who had paid $7.00 and special ticket holders could attend. Strangers had to "procure an introduction" before they could purchase a ticket and men had to be accompanied by a female. (7)

The Cascade Pioneer announced in May, 1886 that the DUBUQUE SALVATION ARMY had leased the natatorium building in Dubuque as a barracks for five years. (8) McMaster sold the building to James H. SHIELDS who owned the land on which it stood. (9)

In 1900 a new natatorium in the ICE HARBOR was expected to be opened on May 15th The tank was constructed in such a way to that it promised a constant source of fresh water. (10)

SIEGEL'S NATATORIUM was established in 1910.



1. "Gifts of Carnegie," The Dubuque Herald, May 1 1896, p. 4

2. Untitled article. The Dubuque Herald, July 1, 1899, p. 4

3. "The Natatorium, a Popular Resort," The Dubuque Herald, August 17, 1884, p. 3

4. "Caught on the Fly," The Dubuque Herald, March 12, 1885 p. 4

5. "Caught on the Fly," The Dubuque Herald, June 20, 1885, p. 4

6. "Caught on the Fly," The Dubuque Herald, August 7, 1885, p. 4

7. "Social Swim," The Dubuque Herald, June 28, 1885, p. 8

8. "The News in Brief," The Herald, May 18, 1886, p. 4

9. "A Heavy Purchase," Dubuque Sunday Herald, May 15, 1887, p. 1

10. "City Briefs," The Dubuque Herald, May 8, 1900, p. 4