The ferns and begonia from local gardens that were planted in 1905 by members of the Women's Improvement Assn. at either end of a small, roofed water trough no longer survive.
However, the tiny structure that the plants were meant to enhance still occupies its original space in what was once the center of South Pasadena.
Over the years, a great deal has been done to preserve the historical oddity that eventually became known as South Pasadena Cultural Heritage Monument No. 7 and titled "The Watering Trough and Wayside Station."
Located in the parkway on Meridian Avenue between Mission and El Centro streets, it has been threatened with demolition for standing in the path of the state-proposed Meridian route of the Long Beach Freeway.
Construction on the trough was begun in 1906, and it was presented to the city on May 20, 1907, "to impress visitors arriving at the railway station across the street."
More importantly, it provided a watering trough for tired animals that were used for transportion back and forth to Pasadena during the horse-and-buggy era .
The trough was designed by the then well-known architect Norman Marsh in an American Craftsman style, and on completion, members of the Women's Improvement Assn. placed a bronze plaque above the drinking fountain. It reads: "Watering trough erected in 1906 by Woman's Improvement Association as a rest stop for horses and men as they traveled between Los Angeles and Pasadena."
The land was leased from Santa Fe Railway for $1 a year and the total construction cost for the watering trough and wayside station with its drinking fountain came to $364.63. Rocks and boulders on the property were used at the base of the structure, which had a beamed and tiled roof and ornamental brickwork.
In the intervening years, the original tile roof disappeared and was replaced by shingle roofing. More than half a century later, in 1968, it was restored by Women's Club of South Pasadena Juniors, and recently the tile roof was put back by local Junior Chamber of Commerce members and other civic-minded businessmen.
South Pasadenans apparently treasure the little water trough and point to it with fondness. It stands just east of the now destroyed Santa Fe Railway depot and across the street from another remaining historic structure known as the Meridian Iron Works, a late-Victorian frame building in the style of the Old West.
One would be at a loss to predict how much longer these historic reminders will remain in their present state.
It is hoped that the little watering trough will ne'er become a wayside gas station for thirsty automobiles.