The Benson Bubblers

Portland is a city of uniqueness.  I believe this is what makes Portland so much fun!  Combining that with all that there is to do downtown, I feel it’s nearly a perfect city!  One very interesting and unique thing about downtown Portland is The Benson Bubblers, which are bubbling drinking fountains located throughout downtown.  You’ll never be thirsty, and neither will your dog (or horse if you have one)!

We can thank Simon Benson for this great idea of installing public drinking fountains.   Simon Benson was born on October 2, 1852 in Iversen, Norway.  He was 16 when he arrived in the United States.  He and his whole family settled in Black River Falls, Wisconsin.  Simon worked on farms, in logging camps, and sawmills.  At the age of 24 he opened a general store, acquired a wife and had a son.  The store did well until it burned down 3 years later which left Simon broke, with a wife and child to take care of.  Simon had heard about all the timber there was in the Northwest and with his experience working in the woods and sawmills of Wisconsin, he decided to move his family to Portland, Oregon in 1880.

Simon Benson is well remembered for his philanthropy.  Benson purchased a 400 acre tract of land in the Columbia River Gorge.  This track of land included Wahkeena Falls and Multnomah Falls. Benson deeded it to the City of Portland for a public park. Subsequently, the land was divided to become the Wahkeena Falls Recreation Area, Benson State Park, and Multnomah Falls Recreation Area. Benson also funded the masonry footbridge across Wahkeena Falls and the reinforced concrete arch pedestrian bridge over the lower Multnomah Falls.

Simon Benson was not a drinker.  He was a tee-totaler, owned a business and wanted to discourage his workers from partaking in the drinking of alcoholic beverages in the middle of the day.  He came up with an idea and gave the City of Portland $10,000 for the installation of twenty bronze drinking fountains!  These drinking fountains were commonly known as The Benson Bubblers.  To this day they are still in use in downtown Portland.  In fact, now there are 41!  There are forty in Portland and one in Sapporo, Japan, one of Portland’s Sister Cities.

To learn more about Portland’s many wonderful fountains, click here

Brought to you by Brian and Glenda

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