Yerkes Fountain South
In Illinois, United States
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A drive-up micro cache at an unusual historic location. This micro cache may be hunted and logged alone, or combined with the other two Yerkes caches (the Yerkes Fountain North and the Yerkes Tap) to complete the three-part Yerkes Fountain geocache series.
Occasionally a sightseeing motorist, cruising along beautiful Sheridan Road through Evanston may notice an odd, ornate concrete edifice placed just off to the side of the street. Is it a decorative planter? A monument? An elaborate streetlight base? Before he has time to come to any conclusion, he's already driven past it, and probably never gives it another thought. But traveling some dozen miles further north to Highland Park, he may experience a sudden feeling of Deja Vu when he passes its exact twin guarding the opposite end of Sheridan Road.
These are the "Yerkes Fountains", constructed over a century ago in honor of prominent Chicagoland transportation tycoon Charles Yerkes, who made his fortune through shady financial speculations in several of Chicago's Interurban and Street railways. Although remembered today mostly for his bankrolling of the University of Chicago's Yerkes Observatory near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, that wasn't his only philanthropic endeavor; he also contributed monies towards a magnificent "electric fountain" (which has since disappeared) in Lincoln Park, and also apparently to these two unusual structures gracing the elite roadway which traverses Chicagoland's most prestigious North Shore communities.
Most of the history of the Yerkes Fountains is lost in obscurity, but we do know that the two were constructed in 1896, and were designed not as decorative display fountains, but as actual drinking fountains. As such, they were essentially glorified watering troughs, satisfying the practical needs of travelers along Sheridan Road by providing a place for their horses to drink. The fountains were decorated in elaborate 1890's style, and in addition to the wide troughs for watering horses, included separate basins and spigots for people (and even for dogs and cats) to drink from. One can imagine the dusty travelers, schoolchildren, and idlers of a bygone age gathered in the shade on a summer's afternoon, exchanging gossip whilst refreshing themselves with the cool waters of the fountain.
How long after 1896 the fountains provided sustenance to both man and beast is not remembered; doubtless the coming of the automobile diminished their necessity and use greatly. By the latter half of the twentieth century, they had not only ceased to function, but had fallen into unsightly ruin, and if Community Garden Clubs hadn't come to their rescue and converted them into decorative planters, they would certainly have been torn down by now.
Today, each of the fountains forms one of the first two parts of a three-part geocache series. The South Fountain and the North Fountain are home to two caches, each of which contains one half of the clue you will need to find the final third cache (the "Yerkes Tap"). All three of the caches are loggable as Finds. After you've signed the logbook at the South Fountain, BE SURE TO TAKE ONE OF THE CLUE SHEETS that you’ll find in the container. Then hunt the North Fountain, log it, and get its clue. When you combine the clue from the South Fountain with that from the North Fountain, you'll know where to look for the final "Yerkes Tap" cache.
More information about the infamous Charles Yerkes himself may be found in our cache description for the "Yerkes Tap" cache, and on the internet here.
Parking for cache hunters is available on the side streets off of Sheridan Road. There’s no need to play gardener here; no digging is required to find the cache. Leashed dogs and well-behaved children are welcome, but keep an eye open for the traffic zooming past. The beasts of the modern age thirst not for water, and motorists no longer have time for idle gossip at the forgotten fountains.
(No hints available.)
Last Updated: on 2/22/2014 5:35:51 AM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (1:35 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum