1904 – The River: A Popular And Dangerous Place To Swim

For years, rocks below the Wabash and Market Street bridges along the river were popular hang outs and swimming holes for area residents. During this early era, few public swimming pools existed.  Hundreds of locals went to the river to cool down during the hot summers. Unfortunately, many drowned due to high or swift water and the absence of lifeguards. Every town had its popular swimming areas along the river.   It was common for kids to swim or walk across the river, especially during low water in July and August. In fact, even cars drove across the water as documented by early photographs. Hundred-year-old Joe Prest of Follansbee recalled walking across the river from the bathing beach at Pastime Park, which was located behind the present day Follansbee fire department.  He was 9 when he crossed in 1919.  He recalled seeing numerous sand bars and remnants of small islands dotting the river.  The water came up to his waist.

  • Joe Prest, Oral Interview, Follansbee, July 2009