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The History of Plumbing

Drinking Fountains and Water Coolers

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Fountain at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Fountain at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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The modern drinking fountain was invented and then manufactured in the early 1900s by two men and the respective company each man founded: Halsey Willard Taylor and the Halsey Taylor Company; and Luther Haws and the Haws Sanitary Drinking Faucet Co. These two companies changed how water was served in public places.

Drinking Fountains - Inventors

Halsey Taylor's father had died of typhoid fever caused by contaminated public drinking water. His father's death motivated him to invent a the water fountain, to provide safer drinking water.

Luther Haws was a part-time plumber, sheet metal contractor and the sanitary inspector for the city of Berkeley, Calif. While inspecting a public school, Haws saw children drinking water out of a common tin cup that was tied to the faucet. Haws also feared that there was a health hazard in the way the the public was sharing their water supply.

Haws invented the first faucet designed for drinking. He used spare plumbing parts, taking the ball from a brass bedstead and a self-closing rabbit ear valve. The Berkeley school department installed the first model drinking faucets.

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