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Keep the Show on the Road!

Stopping For A Cool Drink

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I mentioned in another post that one indicator of an old road alignment was the existence of water fountains by the roadside, especially on long grades. Beyond the value to thirsty travelers, the old fountain was a necessity to provide water to cool a radiator or stop vapor lock (the boiling of gasoline in the gas lines, preventing it from reaching the carburetor).


The roadside water fountain was the subject of the lead article in the April 1930 Public Roads Magazine. It is probably a sign of advanced age and the onset of senility to even care about old roadside water fountains! But there was an undeniable pleasure on a hot day when you pulled off the highway under the shade trees surrounding a water fountain, and took a big draw on that cool elixir.


The freeway rest stop has bigger facilities, but lacks the social interchange of the old water fountain. When road travel was an adventure, and not a rush to a destination, people talked to one another at the old fountains, compared where they had been, what they had seen, and got information about sights and the road ahead. “Did you see the Trees of Mystery,” “How is the road over the pass?”, “We stayed at The Pines and they even have a pool!”


Some of the fountains pictured still exist. The one at Tub Springs has been fixed up and is still a nice stop on State 140. It is also at the site of a spring along the old Applegate Trail branch of the Oregon Trail, so it has been the source of a refreshing drink for at least 160 years!




This is the Quintessential Northwest Roadside Fountain






Tub Springs on State 140 between Klamath Falls and Medford, Oregon

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