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A considerate gesture from the employer, the Benson Bubblers caused local breweries and saloons to lose business.

Simon Benson was a significant player in Portland, a prolific lumber baron, civic leader, philanthropist, and supporter of the Tolerance Movement. The creation of the Benson Bubblers was born after Benson walked through one of his lumber mills and could smell alcohol of the breath of his workers.

When he questioned the men as to why they were consuming alcohol on the job, they replied there were no accessible sources of fresh drinking water available. As a result, Benson commissions the building of 20 elaborate bowl-shaped drinking fountains.

By 1917, there were 40 bubblers installed, featuring an elegant four bowl design. Although this was during the growth of the Tolerance movement, the local saloons saw a decrease in consumption of alcohol by 25%.

The fountains originally ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but now they feature timers and run freely from 5:00am to 10:00pm. In 2005, water restrictors were added to all of the fountains; these reduce the water use by 47% while still providing adequate water flow and pressure for drinking.