The Stone Fountain

It sits alone and seemingly forgotten alongside the road just a mile outside of Calumet. To those passing by it looks to be an old stone monument, one that possibly commemorating an old war hero or local figure. But it holds no bronze plaque and looks to have been abandoned and allowed to slowly rot away. But by stopping to take a closer look it’s revealed to be something a bit more elaborate, and mysterious. Thankfully, fellow cc explorer Gordy Schmitt did just that, and was kind enough to share what he found with the rest of us.

The first thing you notice is that the monument in question was not built to support a simple bronze plaque, but was instead used as a functioning water fountain. A curtain of water would have flowed down from that top slot, splashing down across the lake stones imbedded in the fountain’s surface before dropping down into the shallow crescent pool at it’s base.

A closer look at that base pool reveals a collection of pipes imbedded into it’s bottom. I would guess that these were part of the mechanism used to cycle the water back up to the top of the fountain.

Taking a look around the fountains backside you can clearly see the second half of that mechanism – a long pipe once used to draw water back up to the fountain’s top. It looks like a great deal of the fountain’s backside has fallen down, since I doubt that pipe was always so exposed to the elements.

Of course all this does nothing to answer the real important question: why is this fountain here? Earlier I had asserted that this particular it was in some way associated with the nearby section 16 park, but readers didn’t think that was the case. Rumor has it that the fountain was built as a WPA project, along with those stone boats in Kearsarge and Centennial Heights. But what’s the real story?

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  1. WPA and it use to have a bronze plaque mounted to the back and was feed by springwater and there was a pipe on each side that continuously ran water. 90 degree day and that water was nice and cold to dtink. There was a spicket on the back for filling containers. For me it brings back good and bad memories as that was the last place we stoped before heading back to calumet before the driver of the car lost control showing us how fast he could drive drunk lost control and crashed into a stump that was about 4 feet off the road edge and my brother took the full force of the impact. But that was the best tasting water i ever had and it was still running in the early 70’s. The road was quite curvey senic untill they sraightened it.

  2. This resembles the fountain that exists in Norway, MI. It’s called Norway Springs, access is right off of US 2 just west of Norway. But it is an artisian spring. And some of the best tasting water, anywhere. Beats any bottled water you buy at a gas station any day. Any chance this fountain at Calumet was spring fed?

    1. WPA it is then. I wonder what that plaque said on the back? There must have been a bit more to it then a simple fountain however, since I’ve seen it marked as a roadside park on old county maps. I would guess a few picnic tables and maybe a grill or two?

      Brandon- it does look like the Gipp memorial, which was also originally a fountain. They were probably built around the same time. (the Gipp was erected in the 30’s as well I believe)

  3. A lot of memories of fun times at the fountain while growing up in the late 70’s, early 80’s.
    For me, it was a place to park with a girl, or to take a ride on the “fountain curves” with some friends. Once there with friends, we’d park and…well, do some “things” that we did back in the 70’s and 80’s while growing up.
    “Smokin” Joe Musich, a State Trooper would stop on occasion to see what we were doing at times, and other times, he’d drive past and just wave.
    I also remember as a wee lad always stopping there on the way back from mcclain’s park with the family late on sunday afternoon for a drink.
    If you grew up in Calumet area, you know “the fountain”.

  4. I heard they had the water tested and found out it was contaminated and shut it down. Perhaps somone out there knows what contaminates were found.

  5. It did have a picnic table and outdoor gril like you would find at the lakeshore, I think they call it the peoples park now. With what is left i dont think it can be repaired and even if the water was contaminated all they had to do was remove the 3 public water access points, the drinking water pipes on both sides and the spicket for filling containers in the back and just left it as a water fountain. As it is now they might as well tear it down and let nature take back over as it looks like it has a good hold on it now. I feel a deep hurt as i see more and more structures of the past fade away and no body cares its like my sister said to me this afternoon she will be in an old folks home and asking about calumet and i will tell her dont you remember as i have told you this many times before calumet dosent exist anymore. And still i see somone had to deface the backside with spray paint, must not be much for kids to do up there and once they are out of the area they will come to realize how good they had it.

  6. Not sure about the well in question, but I do know that many of the artesian wells on public property over in Manistique in the UP were capped not because they were contaminated, but because it was cheaper than paying for the tests that state law required to see if they were contaminated. The testing costs too much. If I remember right it was something like $2,000 per well, per year, so it was cheaper to cap the wells, than test them each year.

  7. Bill is on the right track, in our present regulated and litigious culture, such a public hazard would be too risky. The first tourist kid with a belly ache after drinking the water would attract at least seven savage lawyers from Detroit or Chicago.

  8. I was looking at my photos and what Mike had guessed at. I don’t think that pipe in the basin at the bottom would be for recirculating the water, its probably a drain. If not a drain it could be for filling the basin in addition to what came out the top. Otherwise if it did recirculate, you would need a pump of some sort.
    Need to take a weed wacker and chop the weeds and a can of putty and start filling in cracks.

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