Carson City fountain flowing again in time for Nevada Day
The historic granite water fountain in front of the Attorney General’s building is flowing once again — for the first time in a couple of decades.
The solid granite fountain was a gift to Carson City by the Hermon Lee Ensign National Humane Alliance, originally dedicated on Labor Day 1909. It was restored in the 1990s thanks to a grant from the Nevada 125th Anniversary Commission and the efforts of then-Buildings and Grounds Director Terry Sullivan.
But according to retired Nevada State Archivist Guy Rocha, it has really operated only sporadically since then.
Thanks to the efforts of electrician Joe Miller and plumber Don Milner of Nevada’s Buildings and Grounds division, it’s flowing again now and just in time for Nevada Day.
They said it took two weeks to completely rewire and replace the plumbing in the fountain. They also rewired the light atop the fountain and even brought in an expert to clean and polish the five ton granite bowl.
“We had to use air to blow out the quarter-inch lines,” said Milner.
Facilities Manager Jon Vietti said one problem was bees had made a nest inside the piping. He emphasized the nest was empty and no bees were harmed in the restoration.
The fountain was originally located in the center of the Carson-King Street intersection, designed to provide a drink to horses pulling wagons through town before they were replaced by cars and trucks.
For dogs and smaller animals, there are smaller bowls of water at the fountain’s base.
When construction of the now-Attorney General’s building closed off King Street, the fountain was moved out of the street.
Vietti said the fountain uses surprisingly little water because it recirculates the water much like a swamp cooler, only adding water when the level drops from evaporation and opens the valve.
But, because it recirculates the water, Milner said people shouldn’t drink from the fountain. “This was made for horses and dogs,” he said. “Not for humans.”
He said birds will be playing in the water and all sorts of debris and dirt can blow into the bowl.
This was one of as many as 120 fountains donated to cities nationwide by the Alliance. While there are a number of them still in existence, Carson City’s may well be the only one still in running condition.
Vietti said the fountain will be shut down after Nevada Day so that a hard freeze this winter doesn’t damage it. But they plan to turn it back on next spring and summer when, most likely, its best customers will be the deer that daily visit the Capitol Grounds.