Two months after America declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, over 4,000 soldiers of the United States Army arrived at Gettysburg. Their part in the nation’s mobilization plan was to raise four new regiments of infantry and establish a training camp on the Gettysburg battlefield. By late June, hundreds of wooden buildings were under construction — mess halls, stables, hospital wards, bath houses and latrines. As new recruits arrived throughout the summer, the camp’s population more than doubled in size.
Recreational opportunities soon became a priority, especially as temperatures soared. Local residents explored possible locations for the soldiers to swim during off-duty hours. Plans were proposed to rebuild the old Springs Dam on Willoughby Run north of the Fairfield Road, creating a placid pool for the soldiers to cool off. It never materialized. By early July, a notice in the Gettysburg Times announced that a natural pool of water at the junction of Marsh Creek and Willoughby Run was being opened for the soldiers just in time for July 4.