After the company implemented the Employee Representation Plan in 1915, CF&I formed a partnership with the Y.M.C.A. and offered a variety of recreational activities to employees and their families. The new Steel Works Clubhouse, the Minnequa branch of the Y.M.C.A., opened on March 1, 1920 with a modern cafeteria, library, eight-lane bowling alley, barber shop, movie-theater, women’s department, reading room, and auditorium for lectures and theatrical performances. Social dances were also offered on a regular basis. Physical activities included groups playing basketball, billiards, boxing, wrestling, gymnastics, tennis and volleyball. Classroom space was also available to those employees and their families wishing to learn a new trade or take up a hobby. Lessons for children included tap dancing, ping pong, and lessons in how to play the harmonica. Smaller YMCA buildings were also constructed and operated in CF&I’s mining communities.
Perhaps one of the highlights of the Minnequa facility was the 60,000 gallon, 21’ x 60’ swimming pool. Tile lined, the pool used refiltered water and boasted some of the most sanitary conditions for the time. The pool was open from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm daily and 1:00 to 4:00 on Sundays. Beginning swimming lessons as well as intermediate and advanced swim classes were offered. In the 1930s, a diving platform was installed and competitive swimming and diving clubs began. Synchronized swimming classes were also available.
Steel Y aquatic club, ca. 1940s
In an area adjacent to the pool, 1,500 lockers were made available to both men and women in separate locker rooms. Users were charged monthly fees of $1.50 for a locker and $0.05 for soap and towel. Two batteries of 25 tile and marble lined showers were also available for men and women to wash off prior to and following a dip in the pool.
Forced into receivership along with other CF&I operations in 1933, the YMCA closed its doors to all programs including its swimming pool and a “pay when you work” membership drive began in an attempt for the facility to be self-supporting. The membership program was not a financial success, despite having 28 -33% of the payroll as members.
In 1950, CF&I closed the Steelworks YMCA due to the lack of funds to maintain the facility. In 1955, a local resident purchased the building and renamed it the Pueblo Athletic Club where he proposed flying lessons, hunting and fishing trips and boxing matches. Plans to use the building fell through and the building was seized for back taxes. In 1963, the building’s ownership reverted back to CF&I, and the building was razed that December.