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The Old Town Pump

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By Dick Perue

An advertisement in the Aug. 8, 1924 issue of the Greybull Standard and Tribune promoted the inspiration for this week’s Postcard from the Past. It reads:

The old town pump, operated by hand power, is an almost forgotten institution. To many it is wholly or almost unknown. And yet, it was the sole source of water for many a town when this region was a part of the Old West.

When goaded to action by a series of energetic pushes and pulls on the handle, its rusted throat usually gave vent to a racket much like the braying of a donkey. The pump usually was located in the town square, near the general store.

Eventually people began to pipe water to their homes, and the town pump was abandoned. But it had served its purpose in more than one way. It was the forerunner of public utilities, such as our present-day water systems, our telephone, gas, street railway and electric institutions.

We would still be tugging at the handle of the old town pump, puttering with oil lamps and ignorant of the conveniences of gas and the telephone, if it wasn’t for those great people-serving organizations such as the Wyoming Gas Company.

At one time almost every Wyoming town had a town pump and many tales about them. Here are a couple:

One of the town’s features was the town pump, centered at the intersection of the two main streets.  An old history of the county recalled that it drew water from a deep well that even in dry seasons never failed to provide water for thirsty horses. In the middle of the village stood the town pump, which welcomed the tired traveler or the doctor riding home from a midnight house call. A single tin cup hung from a nail, which was used by all the village people. School children would fill pails from it on their way to school and travelers would stop and water their horses there.

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