I’m a sucker for these Images of America books that have blossomed lately.
The product of a South Carolina publisher, the series includes nearly 8,000 books featuring cities, towns and subjects from across the country. Authors work with Arcadia Publishing to select topics, collect historic photos and write the chapter lead-ins and the captions. They get a royalty for each book sold.
Like most people, I most enjoy the books on places I am familiar with such as the editions on the Proctor District, the Stadium District, downtown Tacoma, Old Tacoma or topics of interest like Baseball in Tacoma-Pierce County. Most are written by people with special knowledge and affection for the topic – Bill Evans and Caroline Gallacci on Proctor, Gallaci with Ron Karabaich on Old Town, Marc Blau on Tacoma baseball.
The latest book fits in well. In their third photographic history of Tacoma parks, Melissa McGinnis and Doreen Beard-Simpkins have created a breezy history of Point Defiance Park. The book has sections on early development, construction of still-loved buildings like the Lodge and the Pagoda and creation of the gardens and beaches, the zoo and Fort Nisqually.
Most interesting to me are descriptions of attractions that were gone even before I started taking the Point Defiance bus to the park, especially Funland and the Nereides Baths. The baths, actually a massive indoor-pool filled with water from the Sound, was built in 1906 but demolished by 1932. Apparently a wooden building surrounding humid salt water didn’t hold up as hoped.
McGinnis is the longtime site manager at Fort Nisqually and Beard-Simpkins was a curator there. They worked together on previous series books on Tacoma Parks and Wright Park. They will sign copies this Saturday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.during the 19th Century Christmas event at Fort Nisqually.