ELKO – A woman bathing in the Elko Hot Hole apparently drowned and her body was found Tuesday morning by a family visiting the area.
Elko police were called to the geothermal pool on the south edge of town at 10:50 a.m. Tuesday.
“An out-of-area family had stopped to view the hot holes and observed a body in the water,” said police Capt. Ty Trouten.
The victim was identified as Christine J. Lincoln, 45, of Elko.
“Sometime, probably during the nighttime hours, this local lady decided to go for a swim, and may have been consuming alcohol,” said Deputy Coroner Nick Czegledi.
The is still under investigation, but Trouten said foul play is not believed to have been involved.
“As a reminder, this is not the first death at this location,” he said. “Water temperatures vary in the pool and can overcome anyone within it.”
The pool is fenced off but there was a break in the fence surrounded by paths indicating that people frequently swim there. The fence was repaired Tuesday by the city, which owns the Hot Hole.
Public Works Director Dennis Strickland said staff periodically check on the property, and occasionally receive reports that the fence has been cut.
“We’ve had it breached a few times over the past decade,” he said.
The Hot Hole was once a primary feature in Elko. In 1869, a resort was built near the pool, then called White Sulphur Hot Springs. It burned down and was rebuilt twice.
According to the late historian Howard Hickson, train-hopping hoboes camped near the pond and used the hot water to wash clothes, shave or cook.
Today, websites such as Free Arenas post directions to the site, along with warnings about the dangers and etiquette of swimming in geothermal pools.
Websites also direct visitors to other hot holes in the area, including several near the Ruby Marshes.
While some geothermal pools are relatively safe, Elko’s Hot Hole is not.
“The edges of the Hot Hole are somewhat bearable … but if you venture out closer to the middle and catch a wave of heat that will take your breath away and render you unable to get out of it,” Czegledi said.
He implored people to stay out of the pool.