Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Blog

Cowboys of the Sea


Before Winthrop House residential development was built at 100 Worth Avenue and South Ocean Boulevard, there stood a bathhouse, founded by Gus Jourdauhn. He was a former Coney Island lifeguard who had saved 28 people in one day that settled down in Palm Beach Island, after he spent his honeymoon here in 1911.


Captain Peter“Gus: built Gus Baths, with salt-water pools, triple story diving boards, a casino-café, and an adjunct Rainbow Pier, that extended 1,000 feet into the ocean, offered seaside fun for everyone.  The slogan printed on the marquis, “Welcome to Our Ocean,” became the motto for the city of Palm Beach. When the bathhouse was in existence, there was a tunnel that led to the ocean from the structure.  Captain Gus rarely, if ever, appeared out of his swimsuit.  He continually invented new means to entertain the public. He trained a sea turtle to let him ride upon its back like a cowboy on a horse.  One reporter christened him a “Cowboy of the Sea.”


Captain Gus and his friends of good “seamaritans” founded a club “Cowboys of the Sea was open to any man or woman who had saved someone from drowning.”They became known as the Cowboys of the Sea. Membership was for life.  These guys were revered here in Palm Beach.


In fact, two boys decided to attempt induction into the club by breaking into the bathhouse and faking a drowning in the pool. The incident went terribly wrong and one of the boys drowned in the accident. Since then, there has been a recurring haunt not in the building, but in front of its doors on the sidewalk.


Palm Beachers love their dogs. They walk them down Ocean Avenue constantly where the animals begin to behave most peculiarly. They will scratch at the walk, they will howl, whine, spin, stare, point, and every other odd thing a canine can do. It is often said that animals are hypersensitive to the afterlife and we wonder if they could be catching wind of an American Indian walking down an ancient path, a woman covered in jewels lost in the netherworld, or maybe two boys forever repeating a tragedy endured very long ago. To this day, you can still hear the splashing and the panic around the entrance to the beach tunnel jutting below the Winthrop House.

  • Posted in: