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As It Was: Grants Pass Offers Ice Water Sidewalk Fountain

Grants Pass became a major recreation getaway in the early 20th century thanks to the coming of the railroad, the opening of the Oregon Caves Highway, and the enthusiasm of citizens, primarily the town’s Commercial Club.  The city responded by giving priority to making visitors and residents as comfortable as possible.

One such convenience was an ice-water fountain on Sixth Street.  The fountain provided bubbling ice water from a large metallic basin that fed four round, marble drinking fountains.  Pets could drink from three tiny half-moon basins decorated with metal dog heads at sidewalk level.  A cold-storage truck delivered several hundred pounds of ice daily to a deep hole lined with pipe coils under the sidewalk. A pair of heavy steel doors smoothly covered the sidewalk.  Pedestrians walking down Sixth Street on hot summer days could take a cold drink at the fountain. 

Seeking to create a friendly mecca for tourists and townsfolk, Grants Pass had created an attraction unavailable in any other town along the Redwood and Pacific highways, or for that matter, on Southern Pacific Railway passenger cars.
 

Source: Booth, Percy. Grants Pass the Golden Years. Coos Bay, OR, B&B Publishing, 1984; Kramer, George, and Jill Chappel. "Historic Resources Survey and Inventory of the Central Business District." Historic Restoration Consultants, City of Grants Pass, OR, Aug. 1992, www.oregon.gov/oprd/HCD/OHC/docs/josephine_grantspass_historiccontext.pdf. Accessed 30 July 2017.

Luana (Loffer) Corbin graduated from Southern Oregon College, majoring in Elementary Education.  The summer after graduation she was hired to teach at Ruch Elementary, where she taught for 32 years. After retiring, Corbin worked for Lifetouch School Photography and then returned to Ruch as an aide helping with reading instruction and at the library.  More recently, she has volunteered at South Medford High.