The Lost Fountain of Forest Park

In order to get my daughter interested in history I try to make the past mysterious and exciting for her. One of my favorite teasers is about the "Lost Fountain of Forest Park".

The fountain still exists, although it's deteriorated and overgrown with brush. It's formally known as the Bowles Fountain. Beyond that, I don't know much else about it. Here's a picture of it from a publication called "Picturesque Springfield, Mass.", published in 1895:

More below the break.

Here are directions to the fountain:

Enter Forest Park via Sumner Ave. Proceed down the road that leads by the baseball diamonds. On your right side, about halfway to the parking lots, you will see a road that goes down the hill. There are two cast-iron fence posts bordering it. Proceed down this road to the bottom and you can't miss it.

I don't understand why such a beautiful monument was built in such an isolated place. I suppose that the park has changed in many ways over 100+ years. I think the fountain was originally on what was known as Meadow Road. I tried walking this road a few years ago, but wound up in a marsh.

I'd love to hear stories about this fountain from others.

I know that fountain

I have often been to that fountain - what remains of it above the brush and marsh. Great photo of it from the last Century. I, too, have wondered why it was placed there. And I always assumed there was much more going on in that part of the park than there is today (notice, too, the remains of a stairway behind the fountain that lead uphill to a path with broken park benches.)

* * * * *
- Bill Dusty

the lost fountain

I have seen pictures of this fountain but never knew where to find it. Thanks for locating it--I will be sure to check it out the next time I am in the area. I have an old guidebook ("Illustrated Forest Park" 1898) which states that "This unique public drinking fountain was presented to the Park by the widow of the late Samuel Bowles, as a memorial to the famous journalist."

Your website is an invaluable tool and provides a vital resource for local historians. I found it through Mark Alamad's site.

Mononatto Lookover

There is another lost site in Forest Park called Mononatto Lookover.
See if you can find it.

All that remains of the site is an old paved road that is over grown with brush.
The road loops around in an oval. Along the sides of the road there was a lookout
area to view the Connecticut River. Now the lookout area is all over grown and
there is a knocked down railed fence around the look out area.

I've seen a lot of pictures

I've seen a lot of pictures of the Lookover, and I know the general area of it, but I've never tramped around in that area to find it. I've read that the views were the finest in the area at the turn of the 19th century, but I got the impression that the views aren't clear anymore because of 100+ years of tree growth.

I have seen some pictures of Forest Park down at the CT Valley Historical Museum, and only from them did I realize that Forest Park was a creation -- it was painstakingly landscaped into what it now is, it was not this natural phenomenon that was just named a park.

A long time ago

Years ago, in the early 70's, my friends and I used to visit that fountain. We thought it was odd that it was out in the woods like that.

For the life of me, I couldn't remember where it was. I'll have to go next time I'm in Forest Park.

Thanks for featuring this.


I went to see it!

I went to Forest Park to see the monument. I wonder why the park department thinks that road is important enough to keep it paved and in good condition. It leads only to a footpath.

I crossed that little bridge and went down the path. I happened to look back for some reason and noticed I had walked right past it.

Some of the foliage had been trampled down, as though someone walked over it to the fountain. I wasn't about to fall into that marsh, so I admired it from afar.

The last time I was there was in 1972.

Thanks again.


Well-maintained road

I wondered the same thing. The road was nicely paved, with storm drains well-maintained. And it leads to nothing.

I know that there were a lot of roads criss-crossing the park at one time or another, but that particular road seemed to have been recently reconstructed.

I think that maybe the wetlands have expanded themselves over the years.

In 1972

I remember it wasn't that swampy in 1972. I recall being able to see much more of the monument.

And did you notice the stanchions at the top of the road match the ones they installed at the duck pond?

I wonder if ANYONE knows why they keep the road so well maintained


The Mysterious Forest Park Fountain

I know that fountain and was told by someone long ago that it was called "The Horse Fountain". Perhaps it's obscure location is due to the fact that it might have been part of an old fashioned service road - sort of like the ones off the highway nowadays, where you find gas stations etc. Back then it would have been water for horses instead of gas for cars. Just a theory!

Illustrated Guide book to Forest Park

hi there,
seems you own the only known copy in the world!!!
would you be open to posting it online??
i, for one, would be deeply grateful.
I'M sure many others would be thrilled as well.



I took a trip there August 9, 2008.
I made a page of pics


Red Hill and Snake Hill

My favorite places to slide down the two roads that would have many other kids sliding down along with a few crazy ones like myself at times going down Suicide Hill from the main Road down to the bottom of Red Hill....Can't place that fountain although I knew the park very well as I grew up on Churchill Street in the 40's and 50's and just one house to Sumner Avenue then acroos that Street to the tennis courts then on to Red Hill....the good old days for sure as now 70 and long away from Springfield.....Even remember the Tobagon Slide and building not far from the bottom of Snake Hill...then there was Porter Lake and Barneys for skating in the winter nearby to the duck pond and the Museum at Barneys Estate the Zoo and so much more....Thanks for letting me go down memory lane

Lyle Kaufman

I realize this is an old post

I realize this is an old post that I stumbled upon,but had to comment. I knocked myself out,dislocated my shoulder and cracked my arm sledding down Suicide Hill so long ago, but have trouble finding anyone who knew the hill I was referring to.


Suicide Hill

Marilyn, when did you go down Suicide Hill? We used to go sledding down Red Hill and then as we got older we needed chills and thrills so we went down Suicide Hill. Some of us made it intact. Most of us didn't. I ended up in the brook at the bottom of the hill. Being a glutton for punishment, myself and another daredevil tried it again — piggyback. Both of us on one sled. Went for another swim. I vaguely remember someone got hurt, don't remember the particulars, though.

Suicide Hill

Late 50's-

Trip to Fouuntain

Wow Fred, great pictures!! I have always been intrigued by this man made park. I live in FL now, but the next time I visit, I plan on doing a full tour and having an adventure there!! Thank you for the pics!!

Trip to Fountain

It's been a while since I have been there.... Were things about the same as my pics?

Thank You for the info. Can't

Thank You for the info. Can't wait to go there with your directions this spring.

I grew up in Forest Park in

I grew up in Forest Park in the 40s and 50s
I like to think that I've been over every square mile of it. I remember several fountains. This is the first I've heard of one in this location. the hill you write about we called red hill. the other across from the ballfield, we called snakehill.
The only fountain that looks like the one in the photo was behind one of the lilly ponds
near the hill going up to Barneys tomb.It did also have steps like behind it.


I have a few more pictures of the fountain, one which shows the base better. I know of the other fountain that you write about... I would agree that this photo here tends to look more like the one near the lilly ponds than the one that we are writing about. The one we are writing about does not have a dome on top anymore and the dome stone that is behind the fountain (look at my pages) just does not seem to match the size of the dome in this picture. Maybe the dome was removed?
Anyway I will also be adding a page in the next wek or two giving some phto hints on how to find this fountain. By no means is it a step by step deal. Also this fountain is well gaurded by mosquitos during the summer months!

Hand colored Photo Flower Collection

I have a collection of hand colored photographs by C.W. Johnson who had his studio @ 128 Orleans Street, Springfield, Mass. The collection is a series of 4-6 hand colored photographs of flowers for each month of the year. Do you have any information about C.W. Johnson?

Sally Ramert

CW Johnson photos

Did you ever learn anything about CWJohnson? I just acquired 15 of the cards and I am thrilled with their beauty. I would like to have an entire set as I understand there were 300 of them!

Hand colored Photo Flower Collection

I have a collection of hand colored photographs by C.W. Johnson who had his studio @ 128 Orleans Street, Springfield, Mass. The collection is a series of 4-6 hand colored photographs of flowers for each month of the year. Does anyone have any information about C.W. Johnson from the time period of 1915?

Sally Ramert

C S Johnson

There was a Clifton Johnson from Hadley who wrote several books, did photography about nature etc. Google "Clifton Johnson" and you will find a couple of references and it may be a place to start. The dates seem to match up. Clifton was [part of the Johnson family that owned Johnson's bookstore in Springfield. If this is the right Johnson, them try the local history room at the History museum in
Springfield. Also the Johnson family had started the Farm Museum in the center of Hadley so there may be a way of doing some research. I imagine the library in Springfield or Hadley has some of Clifton Johnsons books as well. Good Luck

Need Some History Help

This is somewhat off the topic, but my GGGGGGGrandfather John Petty, moved to Springfield with his wife, Ann Canning in 1665 (See History of Springfield by Henry Burt 1898). He died sometime between 1676-1680. The History of Springfield does not have any information about his cause of death, and I suspect he may have been killed in King Philip's War. They lived out by Stony River (?). I am just wondering where I can find some resources to research John and Ann to obtain more information, if available.

John and Ann Petty

Justin, I just tried sending you a lengthy email on the Pettis Family website and it would not go through. I found your ancesters in a 4 vol. set of Springfield Vital Records. The references I found were facts about births and deaths, but I did not check all the items that were indexed. Please post an email contact and we can communicate directly.


Please feel free to contact me at


Forest park

My grandmother grew up in the park. She took pics of all of us on the dog as well. She swears she saw it in front of a hospital in hartford with the fountain hole and all.

Forest Park Granite Dog

Thank you Jessica for your info,Greatly appreciated. Not many people use or respond to this program. It could be a graet tool in many ways for research.
Would you know the name of the hospital in Hartford? Also would you have any old pictures of the dog or the park, mainly the old play ground area that I could get a copy of??

Granite Dog picture

Courtesy of a reader, here is a picture of the granite dog. Forest Park Granite DogForest Park Granite Dog

Forest Park

The lost fountain (Bowles) was not in an isolated area years ago, it became that way becouse of neglect mabe from funding. (Shame) As I remember when I was a kid Meadow Rd was open and drivable. A very beautiful area. It started at the top of the hill and went down to the duck ponds. There was an article which I have that came from The Springfield Journal a few years ago which showed the fountain and some history. I have old post cards that show history also.

I have walked the Park for Years. I have collected many old postcards, still looking for more.

I am also looking for the granite dog which was neer the old playgrond near the greenhouse. I have pictures of it with my sister and I sitting on it in the 40's. Any help would be great.

granite dog in forest park

Hi There,
Well,you wont find that dog..not in the park any was stolen sometime after they moved it from what I recaall as it's original spot..near the playground that used to be along trafton rd,between the area where there were all the live bird exhibits and the pool that is there now...I think it was in the early eighties..I remember that a fellow I knew from grammer school,Kevin Welz,a spfld firefighter,publcized a reward for the return of that dog.I dont believe it was ever recovered. Shame

granite dog forest park

Thanks for your info. I will keep looking..It is a shame..

I heard rumors

It had to have been 10 or 15 years ago by now, but I recall hearing rumors of an antique car being found during renovation of the Barney carriage house. Apparently there was a wall that didnt match the original building plans, and upon taking down the wall they entered a room that had been home to an antique car for almost a century.

After reading about the bowles fountain in the paper this morning, and searching the history and recognizing it from trailblazing with the family as a kid, it really got me wondering, does anyone have any information of the renovation or the car or if it was just a rumor? Id really like to hear more about the local history.

Real use for fountain...

In all likelihood, the reason that the fountain is located "out of the way" is that it was originally intended for horses. Big public parks like Forest Park (and Central Park in NYC and Fairmount Park in Philadelphia) were designed with carriage driving in mind. After a bit of driving to the far reaches of the park, it would be nice to stop and give the horses a drink and a rest.

granite dog forest park

Whos got the dog ?? Be a nice person and give it up !! Bring the doggie home, we miss it....

"Dad, where's the doggy?"

The "Return" of the Dog
Sometime this week, the Stone Dog will be "returning" to the park. It's not the original, but let's call it version 2.0 - crafted from photographs of the original. Twenty-six years later, a new generation of children can have a chance to enjoy the dog. Stop by the playground outside the zoo, and hopefully you'll see the new dog in its new home. :-)

Forest Park Zoo

I do not know about the fountain but I grew up visiting Forest Park in the 1960's, 70's and 80's. I am looking for pictures showing the animals kept in the pit type area across from the baseball fields at forest park. The zoo has taken so many forms during the years. Does anyome know if a book exists showing the history?

Zoo pictures

Michael Dobbs's book from Arcadia Press, Postcard History of Springfield, MA, has a whole section on the park, including postcard pix of the zoo. One of the most common zoo postcards on ebay and other postcard sites shows bears in the pit. There were also a number of different animals in the field and valley on the south side of the road around the baseball area - I've seen postcards of deer, elk, buffalo in that area.


Hope someone might remember the stairs in the woods, theywere over by the sleddng hill. My aunt use to make us walk the stairs everytime we were at the park. We would always call them the 1000 staircase! t's not the ampitheater stairs, I'm sure if they exist thrre in the woods somewhere in bad repair. It would just be great to go find them again


There are stairs in the woods all over the park. There are long deteriorating stairs behind the aforementioned Bowles Monument. I was just there today and saw them.

There are a couple of sets high up in the woods behind the duck pond.

You can also look for the concrete remains of long ago picnic tables in the underbrush.


There are remnants of stairs going up the hill opposite the amphitheatre, toward Longmeadow. Those go to an area called the Mononatto Lookover. Late last fall I found another set of stairs that go from the gulley next to the Barney carriage house up to the mausoleum. Those steps are made from old millstones stacked and set into the steep hill. They recently cleared the brush from that area so they should be even more visible. Both of these sets appear on an 1899 map of the park, so they are quite old.


Where did you find an 1899 map?

Is it online?

Map has reproduction and original maps. The 1899 map of Forest Park that I purchased is an original that came out of an old atlas, but I've also purchased a 1910 reproduction map of my neighborhood.

There are stairs all over

There are stairs all over Forest Park. Unfortunately they are all grown over. I grew up in Forest Park all of my life. It was a wonderful place to grow up. I ventured all of the areas, it was awesome. There are also stairs behind the Cyr Arena. The back road by Trafton Rd. that runs around the skating rink. The stairs are in the woods and go down hill to come up to Trinity Church on Sumner Ave. Forest Park was a very beautiful place. I remember the path that used to go down hill just before all of the animals that were caged along the road to the left if you entered Forest Park via Trafton Rd. Just after the Administration Bldg. There were many roads that you were able to drive through that are all overgrown. By the duck ponds there used to be roads that would go out to Longmeadow. Then there was the road as you entered Forest Park via Sumner Ave. on the right we called Red Hill. We used to sled down it, as it was not a funtional road. Then there was Camp Seco, that was a great place in its time. A lot of fun was had there, picnics, swimming, fires in the a frame. I remember the cabins. We used to take inflatable boats and cruise the water down the hill. Then there was King Phillips Stockade. That was very beautiful. We used to go watch the fireworks there. It is a shame that it is not open for people to see its beauty. I could go on and on with my fond memories of Forest Park.

Camp Seco

I used to attend Camp Seco (SouthEnd COmmunity Center) in the 60's! I remember well the cabins, swings, field, the "new" pool where I learned to swim, and of course the paths down to Porter Lake where I spent endless hours in the row boats. I have great memories of those days, now long past.

Those were also the days of the monkey and lion houses, free roaming animals, the polar bear, the wooden gazebo's, Kennedy's flame, red hill, the original stone skate house, etc. And the dinosaur tracks :-)

old forest park map

would you be willing to scan it?
i'm doing research on the park


I have a good scan of it. Let me know your email address and I can send it to you - if I can get it to load. It's a pretty big file (77 megs). My email is katherinempost (at) verizon (dot) net.

Scan Pictures?

Can you send the map scan through email?

World War II victory trees in shape of v?

Anyone know where these are? My step-father says you could see them from across Porter Lake?

Very good, I don't beleive

Very good, I don't beleive you can see the actual V ,When we were Kids it was clear and maintained.
There is a bench we sat on to see it which is still there. From the bowling green head toward the lake, on left side of the road at the curve you will see the bench. Straight across the lake is where the V was.

Victory V

An article in the Springfield Republican on March 27, 1942 had this to say about the victory "V" in Forest Park:
"A huge victory V formed in Forest Park by discarded Christmas trees will become a permanent park display through substitution of live hemlocks for the temporary evergreens, Supt. Theodor R. Geisel said yesterday. The disaplay has been etched on the far side of Porter Lake and is best viewed from the promontory which juts from the road between Marsh's rest and the skating house on the lake."
I believe Marsh's rest was in the area that is now a Seuss-like garden on the road along the far side of the baseball fields.

V access

In the 50's, 60's and early 70's you could directly access the V from Dickinson Street. I lived nearby and would often run down one side of the V and up the other with my friends. We would also climb down the hill and follow the stream out to Porter Lake.

Great fun!


A group of us intrepid explorers would, at least once every summer, hike from the boat house on Porter Lake through the woods and go all the way to the V. It was like, at least in our minds it was, Osa and Martin Johnson going through Darkest Africa. There was a faint — very faint — sometimes — trail leading up to the V. Much of the way was boggy and soggy. All of it was overgrown, so much so, you couldn't see three feet ahead. By the time we got up there, we were tired and dirty and much the worse for wear, but we felt as if we had really accomplished something. Later, when we were in Forest Park Jr. High, in the winter, we'd skate on Porter Lake at night. We'd build a small fire(!!!) on the shore of the lake and sit with our girlfriends, or as the case may be, boyfriends, and roast hot dogs and marshmallows.

Victory V

Great explanation! Thank you, Kathy.

Old stairs & Seco

I remember there was (probably still is) a well hidden set of old wooden stairs that ran next to the old tree dump that was off of Trafton road. As I recall it went down to Pecousic Brook, which feeds Porter Lake. This was mid 70's. We called it the "100 stairs". We would sled down that hill in the winter. I remember there was a beaver dam down there as well- we spent countless hours as kids running around and playing in that park. Then of course there was SECO. Hopping the fence and sneaking in the back side of the animal ravine enclosure. Playing hide & go seek, baseball, football, basketball. It was also popular teenager hang out there at night. And to think there was no internet or video games. Things have really changed in 35 years. We didn't realize how fortunate we were.

I remember that fountain in

I remember that fountain in the '40's and '50's. My parents told me it was connected to a natural spring and the water was spring water. I too remember it on the road to Barney's on the left side somewhere.


Whatever happened to the swings that used to be where the basketball courts are? Those were the ones that you sit into with bars that help you pump to get going. I used to buy a sugar daddy at the snack stand and spend hours on those swings. They were the best.

my son was exited to go to ECOS today 6/16/2014

My son was at the park today. He brought me memories of all the cook outs and picnics. The animals roamed free on the hill side. The polar bear that is now in display @ the SPFLD. Museum. and of course the elephant .It felt like going to Disney world. 1976 . what a great park. My son had a Great point "Dad Their has to be hidden treasures" If I was a millionaire I would of buried some gold or precious metals and coins.

I miss the old Forest Park

I grew up on Orange Street and attended to Forest Park Jr High, so I was a frequent visitor to the park. I walk every inch of it more than once. I miss everything about it. I've never been to Bright Nights because I think it diminishes the great park it once was, it just makes me sad. I don't think this is what all the people who donated the land had in mind.

bright nights

You are so right Faith. I lived on Ozark st. as a kid and have great memories of the zoo, the pools, ice skating on Porter lake, and especially sledding down Barney's Hill with my mom and dad, then much later with my kids. And now no more sledding thanks to Bright Night$. Fishing isn't allowed anymore either and we wonder why kids are forgotten for the big dollar. BTW, were you in a Abe Lincoln play in Kensington Ave School as a child?

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