During the afternoons of the last Sunday of each of the summer months, I enjoy going down to the Allegan Fairgrounds to visit at the Antique Market.  Although my main hunt is for JBP postcards, I also enjoy just looking at all the different types of antiques. On this last Memorial Day Sunday as I wandered I got thinking about the antiques in John Ball Park.  There were four that instantly came to mind.  Two of them have their own stories and I’m researching them for future blogs.  The other two are so similar that I thought I’d introduce them to you together.  They are the stone water troughs. One of them is in the park near the corner of Park St. and John Ball Park Dr. and the other is in the big petting corral near the Red Barn in the zoo. 

In May of 1889 the Humane Society requested and received permission of the Common Council to place six stone water fountains around town, and although I’m not certain the ours were in that group, every other entry about water troughs that I’ve found so far doesn’t mention being made of stones.  Each is a huge boulder of up to a couple of tons, which has been hollowed to hold water for the horses which were the main sources of transportation.

The one out in the park differs from the one in the petting corral by its inscriptions.  The one in the zoo doesn’t have any, whereas the one out in the park does.  On one side of the park rock is an inscription to ‘My faithful Dolly’ and the initials ‘U.A.S.’ and on the other side very faintly is ‘Dolly 1890’.  According to a Press story from September, 1953 the initials belong to Mrs. Annis Spring who lived near Madison and Straight where this stone had originally been placed.  And Dolly was presumed to be her pet horse.  That same story in the Press tells us that the Children’s Zoo rock was still at its site near Grandville and Market, but has been back near the Red Barn since the barn was built in 1980. (At least as far back as I can remember it’s been in its place and is shown in that spot on one of my old postcards from the early 1980s.

So next time you’re out in the park or back in the Children’s Zoo, take a couple of minutes to take a look at those two big boulders and appreciate their hundred years history.  And also look around to see if you can find the other antiques in the park.



About Andrea Perry

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Andrea recently retired from a 37 year carreer at John Ball Zoo (if you count her time as a volunteer).   She has worked in almost every area of the Zoo, but prefers large mammals.  

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