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WENTZ POOL | Ponca City


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rom rural to royal, check out the Wentz Pool in Ponca City, Okla. It is the centerpiece of Wentz Camp, a 33.5-acre park, built by oilman and philanthropist Lew Wentz as a gift to the people of Ponca City.


In 1928 construction was started on the 150-foot by 50-foot, Olympic- size, above-ground pool. Built into the side of a hill, the pool is sur- rounded by walls on three sides.


Structures at the camp and pool are anything but ordinary, built in


Romanesque Revival style from native sandstone and limestone laid irregularly in what is known as “uncoursed masonry.” The entrance to the camp is flanked by pseudo-guardhouses, small towers with crenel- lated parapets—like mini-castles. The entrance to the pool is guarded by two similar structures. Wide stairs covered with small blue and white tiles lead down to the pool and serve as seating for up to 500 people. The pool was popular from the beginning for swimming contests and beauty pageants. Wentz Pool opens Memorial Day & closes Sept. 3, 2016, but the pool is closed June 6-10 for a special camp reservation. Hours: 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday with hours extended until 9:00 p.m. on Thursday evenings. The pool is closed on Mondays with the exception of Memorial Day. Admissions: $1.00 for children 12 years and under (accompanied by parent or guardian) and $2.00 for 13 years and up. The camp and pool are located northeast of Ponca City, at 2928 L.A. Cann Drive.


2. W { TURNER FALLS | Davis }


est of Davis, Okla., just west of I-35, is one of Oklahoma’s most scenic spots. Seventy-seven-foot-high Turner Falls is Oklahoma’s largest waterfall. A tourist destination since before statehood, the park surrounding the falls offers a


number of swimming spots. The two most obvious swimming holes are the Waterfalls Pool and the Blue Hole. “The water level varies, but during the summer season there are areas at the falls that are up to 12 feet deep. At Blue Hole, there are spots up to 10 feet deep. It’s all natural,” Park manager Billy Standifer says. “The Blue Hole features a slide and diving board.” For the many people who think this is all there is to the park, they’re wrong. There are about 1,500 acres with a variety of camping and lodging options. And there are a number of other nice swimming spots along Honey Creek above the falls. The two drawbacks to the park are the admission prices and the crowds. Summer weekends can be impossible with huge crowds and difficulty finding parking.


Summer rates are $12 per person for visitors 13 and over. Seniors and


children 6 to 12 are admitted for $6 each with younger children admitted free. The swimming areas are open from 7 a.m. until dark. There are concessions available and a trading post for picnic supplies. Picnic tables are at a premium on busy days. In addition to swimming, visitors can hike and explore the “Castle,” an abandoned house built in the 1930s in Ye Olde English style.


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Wentz Pool, Ponca City, Okla. Courtesy photo


Turner Falls, Davis, Okla. Photo by John Rohloff


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