Heading east a few miles from Wallace, Idaho on
I-90, you briefly pass Elmer's Fountain on your right.
It takes frequent travel on that stretch for its awesome
folk beauty to penetrate your perception.
In the winter the fountain grows mushrooms of ice around
If you want to stop, take the Gold Creek exit, and it's
Here's a view of the second fountain with the freeway
in the background:
From Zac Ward, here's a brief history of the fountain, slightly edited: Elmer
Almquist who built these fountains was a silver miner, resident of
Mullan. He was part owner of the Sunshine mine and he died in March
1986. His brother Harry Almquist (died March 2007) lived in
Murray ID where there is a museum he and Walt, the third brother
founded. Harry is my wife’s grandfather.
Arnold was Elmer’s best friend and the original owner of the land the
fountains are on. For years it was known as Arnold’s Fountain. Soon after
Elmer’s death the name was changed to Elmer’s Fountain.
From Art Almquist, Elmer's son: Elmer
Almquist was my Dad, he
passed away in 1986. I helped my dad maintain the water flume
system up the
side of the 600 acre mountain side property that is fed year-round from
at a much higher elevation since I was a very young boy. The
water flows down
Gold Creek and about 300 yards up the mountain from the fountain
location is a
small water dam and a water flume that skirts the mountain side before
steep slop drop through a four inch water pipe to a valve which
flow at each fountain. The water supply remains unfrozen during
my Dad was smart enough to store the water upstream in a horizontal
tunnel. I agree with what the trucker stated on your fountain
it is the best fresh water I ever tasted. We actually
the water for resale but the bottled water company wanted it to be
spring water which it is not, it is primarily snow melt mountain
watershed from Gold Lake
which has no road or trail access and has remained essentially
Our family periodically
maintains the area by cutting brush, falling newer tree growth that blocks the
view from Interstate 90 as well as sand blasting and re-painting occasionally.
My dad was a skilled welder and created log cabin bird houses out of metal as
well as numerous small sculptured items. He was an accomplished pilot, hunter
and businessman. At one time he was offered $3 million dollars for the 600
acre Gold Creek property but turned it down since he wanted to keep feeding his
pet ducks and geese that used to be there. He was also president of a mining
company, Allied Silver Lead. Dad was pretty handy, he rigged his car to run on
diesel fuel during the Second World War when gasoline was rationed even though
everyone told him it was impossible. He started the car on gas but then once
warmed up would throw a switch and run diesel fuel through a system of copper
tubes wrapped around the engine exhaust manifold to preheat it prior to carburetor
atomization intake into the combustion chamber and it ran great.
Dad had the record in North Idaho at the time for surviving 12 years on
kidney machine which we installed in a remodeled upper room in our
also built that house). Mom went to the hospital and learned how
to run the
entire system and as a couple they took care of the entire dialysis
all those years. My dad was a little cantankerous but a very
honest and hard
worker. He used to say the key to success was to sleep 8 hours,
work 8 hours
and just make sure they are not the same 8 hours. He also like to
follow or get the hell out of the way.” I live down here in
Florida now but always
make a trip to Gold Creek whenever I make a trip back home with my wife
Incidentally, Mr. Arnold was a millionaire
who lived in La Jolla, California and used my Dad to manage the
property after the Gold Creek Mine and Mill were shut down many years ago. The
water flume was originally used to create hydro-electric power to run the
mining mill that had a small rock crushing and gold, silver and lead ore
processing plant. Mr. Arnold was so grateful for my Dad’s thoroughness
and honesty over the years that he let my Dad have the 600 acre property for
just $20,000 not long before Mr. Arnold died. My Mother made the decision to
rename the fountain Elmer’s Fountain after my Dad passed away.
a folk construction from mining parts. Although the piping in itself
is not particularly attractive, the gracefully sprinkling spray is very
nice. The ingenuity it took to craft these fountains to continue for years has
to be admired.
As you may read in the cement, this is Arnold's fountain.
Although clearly designed for washing hands and taking a drink, nothing
is known by me of the quality or source of the water, but I got this email
from someone visiting this website:
"I first saw Elmer's (Arnold's) fountain when I
moved to Idaho In 1956. I have been drinking water from that Artesian (sic) well
ever since. I don't live close to the fountain anymore but as a long haul
trucker I go by it regularly and fill all the plastic water bottles I keep
in my truck. It is undoubtedly the best tasting water I've had in my lifetime
(62 years). Sincerely Chuck Martin "
There is also on the site an ore train car, a picnic table,
and a small dog house sized log cabin.