Every freshman wanders around campus hoping to unearth some long-forgotten secret of Mines. As with all commonly known facts, with time they can turn to legend. The rumor of the week seems to have taken that turn towards myth. Buzzing its way across campus, too few truly know the truth of this rumor that leaves the rest of us confused and befuddled.
Is there a pool in Russell H. Volk Gymnasium?
Answer: Sort of.
“I thought it was haunted or something,” exclaimed sophomore Lauren Headrick, when asked about the alleged pool.
While Volk boasts basketball/volleyball courts, two racquetball courts, a wrestling room, and a weight room, who would not be hesitant to deny there was once a swimming pool there also? The truth of it is that when the Russell H. Volk gymnasium was erected in 1959, it did in fact have a six lane swimming pool. The entire pool area occupied approximately 6,373 square feet.
So what happened? Students can only assume that the Student Recreation Center’s natatorium (fancy word for pool) took the place of the older, run-down pool at Volk. In addition, Mines probably felt its students needed a wind tunnel.
Today, 3,587 of those square feet enclose a new wrestling area, while 2,786 square feet contains a wind tunnel. The wind tunnel is used for extraneous soil testing under a controlled environment. To clear up any skepticism, there is even a video online titled “Wind Tunnel: Understanding the atmosphere’s relationship with the earth’s surface,” where you can see the newly remodeled area.
“Our senior design team was hunting for a wind tunnel to use,” said Senior Ashley Hertzler when sharing her discovery of the wind tunnel on campus.
Despite being demolished and replaced, the remnants of the neglected, old pool still linger in the corners of Russell H. Volk (and online, of course). At the back of the girl’s locker room on the first floor, the pool rules are clearly posted next to an eerily sealed off door. Even by the front door, the floor plan as an enormous area labeled “Pool Area.” In the background of the video listed above, shots display the tile work that reads “Shallow End Here,” and other depth markers.
These days you will only find a room that is labeled ‘Wind Tunnel Room,’ where you can be forewarned about the “VISIBLE and/or INVISIBLE LASER RADIATION,” instead of “Pool Entrance.”
So to set the record straight, there once was a swimming pool in Volk, but the remnants are slowly fading with the wear of time, making this rumour busted.