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Cove Springs: After all these years, the water’s still fine

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Monday, October 01, 2007

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COVE There’s an update going on at the historic Cove Warm Springs Pool, but traditionalists can relax: No drastic changes are planned.

Robert Pratt, the retired college professor who moved to Cove from Spokane after he bought the 25-acre property nearly three years ago, says he decided to postpone plans to develop a small RV park after he got the cost estimate. He did, however, expand the bathrooms in the bathhouse to make them handicapped accessible.

The RV park was Pratt’s most elaborate development plan for what he admits is  kind of a low-key operation. His motto: “We keep it clean, but we don’t have a lot of amenities.”

“I am pushing ahead with heating the dressing rooms this winter,” Pratt says. He’s also putting in showers. “That’s a big step for this place.” Pratt is hoping to attract year-round swimmers to the pool, located in the center of Cove, a city of 680 residents about 15 miles east of La Grande.

The spring’s history is hefty. Indians, and later trappers and mountain men, used the warm springs pool, which bubbles out of the earth at a comfortable 86 degrees.

About 80 years ago, a swimming pool was dug to enclose the springs, which flow directly into the pool’s bottom.

The spring’s high volume and the pool’s unique construction — the warm water that bubbles up at the bottom of the pool and flows out over the top — negates the need for chlorine. “It refreshes itself every 12 hours or so,” says Pratt, who is only the pool’s fourth owner.

Turns out ’07 was a busy season for Pratt, who expects his annual earnings to be around $40,000, money he says goes right back into improvements. Admission to the pool costs $2 for kids from 1 to 6, $4.50 for seniors and older kids, and $6 for adults.

Pratt is seeing a growing stream of hot-springs enthusiasts, bringing all sorts to Cove’s shores. Says Pratt: “They’re enjoyable to talk to.”

JEANIE SENIOR


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