From 1880 to 1920, Crystal Springs was a flourishing village with daily passenger service on the Northern Pacific Railway. Hotels, boardinghouses, pool halls, restaurants, and lumberyards catered to railroad employees, travelers, laborers, and incoming immigrant farm families until prairie fires consumed most of the town’s businesses in 1923 and then again in 1929. A small Gothic Revival church and a handsome Arts and Crafts school sit empty at the townsite beside I-94, neglected since the 1970s. Toward the northeast, the Crystal Springs Fountain is a landscape feature sponsored by the North Dakota Highway Department and constructed with WPA funding. Using local materials, a small crew of laborers built the fountain as a tourist wayside feature. The fountain soon became a local landmark for highway travelers between Bismarck and Fargo, and an attractive amenity for automobile travelers when cars required frequent replenishment of water to cool the radiator. With the completion of I-94 across North Dakota in 1977, there has been increasing interest in the old Red Trail (U.S. 10), which parallels or has been incorporated into the interstate. Recreational wayside stopping points like this now abandoned fountain and park embody something of the experience of automobile travel on a major cross-country highway from the 1930s through the 1970s.
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Crystal Springs Wayside Fountain
1935–1936, Arthur Geisler, builder-stonemason. Gravel road at exit 221, I-94, 1 mile northeast of Crystal Springs
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