At the 1874 organizing convention of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the members were urged to erect drinking fountains in their towns so that men could get a drink of water without entering saloons and staying for stronger drinks. Often the drinking fountains that were erected offered a place for horses to drink, another place for dogs, and of course, a place for humans to drink. (WCTU Fountains on the Internet Archive)
Women who were concerned about the destructive power of alcohol and the problems it was causing their families and society organized the WCTU. They met in churches to pray and then marched to the saloons to ask the owners to close their establishments. These activities are often referred to as the “Women’s Crusades” and their success was both the forerunner and impetus for the founding of the WCTU.
The radiating sidewalks on the Arcata Plaza were completed in 1910, and the granite WCTU drinking fountain, an effort of Arcata stonemason James Davidson, was erected in 1912. It is one of the few WCTU fountains left in the country.