Horse and Human Drinking Fountain - Atlas Obscura

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Horse and Human Drinking Fountain

Welcome, Minnesota

This early 20th-century rural drinking fountain provides water for both horses and humans. 


Whether you are a horse or a human, you’re always welcome to have a drink of water in Welcome, Minnesota. The town is home to one of the few remaining hybrid fountains in America, and almost certainly is the one to make the biggest deal of that fact.

This drinking fountain dates to 1914. At the time, access to potable water in rural areas. was an even bigger issue than it is today. Clean water was often a luxury, and drinking fountains had been built to improve public health for more than half a century.  At the same time, the burgeoning Temperance movement led to a drive to create drinking fountains as an ostentatious alternative to alcohol.

The combination of increased attention to teetotaling and animal welfare led to a spate of drinking fountains designed for both humans and animals—dogs, horses, or even pigs. Some of the more ornate drinking fountains remain in cities, but this is one of the few examples of a simple sheet metal fountain still in existence. Horses are able to drink from the street, while humans can drink from the sidewalk outside of Welcome Park.

There isn’t a lot to this fountain, and it is often out of operation, but the town has adopted it as a symbol nonetheless. A sign was put up that states that the fountain was built in August 1914, with water for both horses and humans. The town’s water tower is visible from the fountain. On the side of the tower is lettering that reads “WELCOME,” with a graphic of a horse and a person, sharing a drink of water from the very fountain before you today.

Know Before You Go

The drinking fountain is free and open to the public.

Welcome is improbably named not for the greeting, but rather for an English homesteader named Alfred M. Welcome, who lived at the edge of town when it was incorporated in 1890. Despite this, you are still likely welcome to visit.

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October 16, 2023

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