By any name, it is a cool place during the summer

Amorette Allison
Star History Columnist

It has been called everything from the swimming hole to the Rivenes-Laird Aquatic Center but no matter the name, Miles City’s natural swimming lake has been very popular.

The lake started as an oxbox of the Tongue River. In 1910, the city fathers straightened the river and cut off what later became Scanlan Lake (the swimming pool) and Cook Lake (the old boating lake, now a bird sanctuary.)

Even before the Main Street bridge split the lake in two in 1933 when it was constructed, people liked to take a dip or do a little casual boating in the lake. 

In the 1930s, the local Kiwanis Club put up changing tents and provided lifeguards.

The modern docks are new but the earlier versions were built after World War II. They included two “Olympic” size pools for swimming competitions and water polo games to the side of the main body of water and two diving boards. For many years, Miles City had a strong swim team and many competitions were held in the lake.

Scanlan Lake was named after long-time Miles City Star editor Joseph Scanlan and Cook Lake after boating enthusiast Fred Cook. In the days before air-conditioning, the swimming pool often hosted 1,000 guests a day.