Tenino Quarry Pool renovations nearly finished as grand reopening approaches

Family Fun Day set for June 22 to celebrate return of popular local attraction


One of Tenino’s top summertime attractions will return on Saturday, June 22, as the Quarry Pool will reopen after a several-year hiatus.

The improved Tenino Quarry Pool, 399 W. Park Ave., features a new shallow pool and other numerous upgrades.

Mayor Dave Watterson said a vast majority of the upgrades, including the new shallow pool, several outdoor showers and a drinking fountain, came through grant funding, leaving the city with very little financial responsibility to renovate the Tenino Quarry Pool.

“Before it closed down, and it’s been closed down for a few years so we may have to do a little work to get enthusiasm back up, we had people from all over the state come here. This is a very unique pool that I don’t think you see anywhere in this state, or maybe even the country,” Watterson said. “We draw a lot of people out here from other areas. When they come here, they’re visiting our restaurants. They’re shopping at our shops. For the local people, it’s a great place for the kids to be able to come to in the summer. It’s a great thing. It’s a summer activity for our people.”

The grand reopening of the Tenino Quarry Pool will take place during Tenino’s Family Fun Day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 22. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at noon. Admission is free, sponsored by the recent Splash Bash fundraiser. The pool will be open regularly from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. School district residents can pay $4 for admission, while out-of-district residents must pay $6.

Also on June 22 at Tenino City Park, there will be bounce houses, pony rides, a petting zoo, balloon animals, food, entertainment and other activities to celebrate Tenino’s Family Fun Day. Guava Jam will present live music at 11:30 a.m., followed by Alex Zerbe Professional Zaniac at 1 p.m., and Backfire Band at 2:30 p.m.

The Tenino Quarry Pool originally opened in the 1940s and was first called the Veterans Pool, Watterson said. Tenino’s top attraction has come a long way since it first opened, he added.

“It used to be a mess. There was not really much of anything, so we added some grass and we’ll have picnic tables out here,” Watterson said. “When they carved this stone, they dug down and hit a spring. This area filled up with water, and it’s considered a lake.”

The lake area of the Tenino Quarry is 60 to 80 feet deep, Watterson said. In recent years during the closure, the area has seen some basic upgrades with the addition of two outdoor shower heads and a spray fountain. Watterson said future plans include adding indoor showers, a bathhouse and concession stands. He noted the city is currently in the process of applying for a grant to make those upgrades.

“That’s one thing people will have to bring now, is their own refreshments. People can bring their own water in, and whatever food they want to eat,” Watterson said. “We don’t have a place for them to buy anything right now. We’re just applying for the grant, so it could take a couple years. It’s on the agenda for another upgrade.”

The biggest upgrade, Watterson said, is the new pool area, which is 2 feet deep and has a handicap access ramp entryway into the body of water.

“This used to be a big open area with a pool, just water in it. The problem was we didn’t really have a good filtration system, so we’d have to pump a million gallons of water to fill it up. It was very expensive because we used so much water,” Watterson said. “With the old pool, if you had little kids, you would’ve had to go out into the deep water with them. Here, the real young kids that you may not want out in the water without keeping a close eye on, they’ll be able to play in the smaller pool. Parents will be a little more comfortable with that.”

The addition of the shallow pool also features splash park-like “water features” for younger kids. The quarry will also feature several lifeguards on duty each day to watch over both pools, especially the deep end, Watterson said.

Watterson noted that, for safety reasons, the deep part of the lake and the new shallow pool will be separated by a fence to ensure non-swimmers don’t accidentally fall into the deep body of water.

“This is a major grant we got to do all this work, too. The city, of course, spent time where they’d come out here and work themselves, but in general, most of this work was done with grant money. Some money came from the city, but not much,” Watterson said. “With the upgrades to the pool, we have a whole new filtering system, so we don’t have to switch the water out with a chlorination system. It’s going to save the city (money) because, like I said, we had to pump a million gallons, and even then, we had to take water from the lake, too. That’ll be some big savings for our residents.”

Jessica Reeves-Rush, City of Tenino park, arts, recreation and culture specialist, said the Tenino Quarry is one of the few freshwater areas for people to swim in locally.

“It’s really considered a lake. I’ve met people here who thought it was a very special place to swim. You can swim out and actually stand underneath the waterfall. It’s a very unique experience,” Reeves-Rush said. “This is going to create a lot of fun memories in the future. We’ll have new shelters, new picnic tables, some places to just hang out and watch the kids have fun.”

The City of Tenino will be announcing more activities this summer on its Facebook page.