Monday, March 30, 2009

Horse Trough Fountain

Horse Trough Fountain, 31st & Thurman


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It's been a while, and I'm trying to remember how these photo-expedition posts work again, so I thought I'd start small. Partly because it's easy that way, and partly for extreme contrast with the previous glitzy Vegas-o-licious post. So today's adventure takes us up to NW 31st & Thurman, home to Portland's very own Horse Trough Fountain, one of the more obscure corners of the city Water Bureau's aqueous empire. That last link is the only mention of this fountain anywhere on the interwebs, at least that I can find. Until now, obviously. This is quite a dearth of info. You'd think there'd at least be a historical marker nearby explaining what the fountain is and how it got here, but I didn't see one. That's sort of a shame, but it also makes this post easier to write.

The Water Bureau's list of fountains doesn't include it, I guess because people can drink out of it. That makes it a big drinking fountain, instead of a small "real" fountain, apparently. There are also facilities for horses and dogs. If a fountain provides water for horses and dogs but not people, like the Thompson and Skidmore fountains, it counts as real. If people can drink out of it but nobody does, and it also includes allegorical nekkidness, like the Shemanski Fountain, it's real too. If it's full of chlorine, and you can run around and wade in it, but not drink it, it's real, like the Keller Fountain. Whatever the criteria are, the Horse Trough apparently doesn't meet them. Well, that or they just forgot about it. I can see how that could happen.

If this location looks a bit familiar, it's because I was here a few months ago taking photos of the Thurman Street Bridge just across the street. The fountain might have been intended for the use of horses pulling the city's old horse-drawn streetcars, way back in the early 20th century. The bridge did carry streetcars at one point, so it's a working hypothesis, at least, and I can't find any sources that prove me wrong.

I don't remember noticing the fountain the last time I was here, even though I was right there across the street from it. Part of that, I'm sure, is that it's just not very big or imposing. And my powers of observation aren't always the greatest, especially when I'm in a hurry, which I was. But it's also true that I wasn't doing fountains at the time, so it just sort of didn't register. This time I stopped and took a few photos, but it felt like people were looking at me funny and wondering why I was taking photos of their little neighborhood drinking fountain. I don't know if that impression was true or not, but I eventually quit and went away. So anyway, enjoy, or whatever.

Horse Trough Fountain, 31st & Thurman

Horse Trough Fountain, 31st & Thurman

Horse Trough Fountain, 31st & Thurman

Horse Trough Fountain, 31st & Thurman

1 comment :

KlalaKdkdss said...

Great post on a great blog! There's a real dearth of quality blogs on Portland's history and this one fills an important niche. Please keep up the good work