Carry Nation Memorial Drinking Fountain
The Carry Nation Memorial Drinking Fountain makes some people as woozy as a pint of hootch. Some claim that it was originally built outside of the Carey House bar, which Carry Nation smashed in 1900. In fact, according to Jamie Tracy, curator of the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, it never stood anywhere except outside of Wichita's train station.
Others say that the Carey House was the first bar that Carry Nation smashed with a hatchet. But a careful examination of the Carry A. Nation destruction time line shows that Carry didn't adopt the hatchet until a month later; she smashed the Carey House with rocks. A third myth, that the fountain was once nearly destroyed by a wayward beer truck, seems to have no substance whatsoever, or at least none that Jamie could find.
When the train station closed, the Drinking Fountain was abandoned, and for years it gathered dust in a warehouse. Then it was revived as an attraction at Wichita's Old Cowtown Museum (where we saw it in 1985). In the late 1980s it was moved downtown again, to its current spot in Naftzger Park. Carry Nation loved water as much as she hated booze, so a drinking fountain in her memory is a fitting tribute, even though the Woman's Christian Temperance Union didn't build it until seven years after she was dead because, as Jamie put it, "She was kind of a nut."
Although Carry did not whack with a hatchet in Wichita, one has been engraved into the granite next to Fountain's spigot and bowl, a visual reminder to stay sober or else.