Louisville Falls Fountain

The Louisville Falls Fountain was a fountain that floated in the Ohio River off the shore of downtown Louisville, intended to be a major tourist attraction for Louisville, Kentucky. It operated from 1988 to 1998.

Louisville Falls Fountain as seen from Clarksville, Indiana, looking toward downtown Louisville, in 1993

The fountain was dedicated August 19, 1988, four days after the death of its benefactor, Barry Bingham Sr. who, along with his wife, Mary Caperton Bingham, had donated $2.6 million towards the project and future upkeep.[1] The octagonally-shaped, computer-controlled fountain was located near the mooring of the steamboat Belle of Louisville, just west of the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge. It was purported to be the tallest floating fountain in the world, and spewed 15,800 gallons of water per minute in the shape of a fleur-de-lis.[2][3] The Binghams were inspired by the Jet d'Eau fountain in Geneva, Switzerland, and they, along with then-Governor of Kentucky Wallace Wilkinson, hoped a fountain in Louisville would become a symbol for the city on par with the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.[2][4][5]

The fountain, lit by colored lights, was to be operated from Memorial Day through Thanksgiving every day from morning through midnight, and stored during the winter in Utica, Indiana. When operating, it was visible from Belle of Louisville cruises, the Belvedere and nearby parts of downtown Louisville, as well as the Southern Indiana riverfront at Jeffersonville and Clarksville.[2]

Costs were higher than expected, and the fountain malfunctioned several times, quickly depleting the maintenance fund. Maintenance was eventually taken over by the Louisville Water Company. It initially shot water to a height of 420 feet,[4] though to lower operation costs this was eventually lowered by the water company to 375 feet.[2]

On September 27, 1998, the fountain's central pump exploded leading to a total breakdown, as reported by then-Mayor Jerry Abramson a few days later.[6] Due to the expenses involved in repairing the fountain, the city decided to keep it shut down and subsequently sold it for scrap.[5][6][3] As of 2019, the fountain was still floating and tethered to a barge on the Ohio River adjacent to New Albany, Indiana, yet to be dismantled.[3]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Falls Fountain kinks being fixed". Daily News. Associated Press. September 9, 1988. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Kleber, John E., ed. (2001). "Louisville Falls Fountain". The Encyclopedia of Louisville. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. p. 545. ISBN 0-8131-2100-0. OCLC 247857447. Retrieved October 16, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c Ellis, Laura (February 15, 2019). "Curious Louisville: Whatever Happened To The Falls Fountain?". Louisville Public Media. Retrieved October 25, 2023.
  4. ^ a b Ted M. Natt Jr. (August 20, 1988). "Tallest 'Floating Fountain' dedicated". Williamson Daily News. p. 7. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Falls Fountain Flashback". LEO Weekly. August 13, 2008. Retrieved October 16, 2023.
  6. ^ a b Shafer, Sheldon S. (September 30, 1998). "Broken pump could doom Falls Fountain". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved October 25, 2003 – via newspapers.com.

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