Dunsmuir's restored 'Lady of the Fountain' unveiled
“Our lady is back,” said Luann Krahn-Wiegele, president of the Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens, during a formal unveiling Friday of the newly restored Alexander Dunsmuir Fountain.
First erected in 1888 in the Dunsmuir Railroad Yard, Alexander Dunsmuir, a railroad baron from British Columbia, Canada, offered to purchase and install the fountain in exchange for the town naming itself after him.
At the time, the purchase and installation cost Dunsmuir $360.
The fountain became a community landmark, a symbol of the town’s water resources and a centerpiece for the active railroad yard. In 1899, the fountain was damaged under a heavy accumulation of frozen snow and ice. It is thought that the lady who graced the center of the fountain disappeared at this time and a round globe/sprinkler was installed in her place, explained Krahn-Wiegele.
In the 1960s, the fountain was dismantled by Southern Pacific Railroad and was stored until a new location could be found. In the 1970s, a new basin was formed near the entrance to the Dunsmuir City Park and the fountain once again flowed with Dunsmuir’s “Best Water on Earth.”
In 1991, the Alexander Dunsmuir Fund was established to raise money to restore the haggard fountain. Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens took on the task of managing and collecting the donations and started the quest to restore the fountain.
In May of 2019, under Wiegele’s leadership, the restoration process began.
“Although the basin and statue base were intact, the majority of the fountain had deteriorated beyond simple maintenance and repair,” said Wiegele. “This included dismantling the fountain once again and completely rebuilding the fountain and restoring the fountain basin. A new fountain lady, ‘Rebecca at the Well’ was purchased and reinforced to once again stand on the original fountain base.”
“After many months and the dedicated efforts of local Dunsmuir talent, the Alexander Dunsmuir Fountain is restored to preserve its natural beauty and historical value for the citizens of Dunsmuir and tourists who visit our beautiful mountain hamlet and city park,” Krahn-Wiegele said.
Steve Rice and friends designed, sanded, reinforced and retrofitted the “lady” and the entire fountain to withstand harsh weather and time, she added. David Walmisley, a commercial painter, matched the finishes of the new lady to the original base and preserved the basin with patching and new paint.
Krahn-Wiegele gave a special thanks to the original Alexander Dunsmuir Fund group, the Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens, Steve Tinny, Brian Swinderman, Steve Rice and friends, David Walmisley, and the Dunsmuir Recreation and Parks District in helping to make the Alexander Dunsmuir Fountain flow once again.