What is the origin of the lithia water that comes out of the fountain on the downtown Plaza in Ashland?
— B., Medford
The lithium-laced water that tourists and residents sample from the Plaza fountains makes quite a journey, according to Ashland Water Department Water Quality and Distribution Supervisor Steve Walker.
The water starts its journey at a well and small pumphouse at the Ashland Gun Club located in the countryside east of Ashland.
It's piped underground along Emigrant Creek Road, crosses Dead Indian Memorial Road and travels below the Ashland Municipal Airport and I-5. The pipe follows East Main Street past Ashland Fire Station No. 1, up to Hargadine Street, beneath the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's brick courtyard, behind Ashland City Hall and — finally — over to the downtown Plaza.
While some of the lithia water stops its journey at the Plaza fountain, more travels up into Lithia Park through a pipe to the Enders Shelter gazebo fountain.
For people who wish they could visit the origins of the lithia water, Walker said there's not much to see at the Ashland Gun Club except a pumphouse that stands about three feet tall.
Besides, only Ashland Gun Club members and their guests are allowed on the property due to safety considerations.
The lithia water fountains in Ashland are a reminder of a time when the town sought to become a world-class mineral water resort during a mineral water craze in the early 1900s. Although that dream never panned out, it did help lay the groundwork for Ashland to become a tourist destination.
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