What’s the planter on Olmstead and West Lane, and why’s it there?
Nestled between the intersection of Olmstead and West Lanes, rests an almost indistinguishable object. Part fountain, part planter, the three-by-four-foot cement structure has left many passersby curious. The mysterious object was once a watering trough for horses in the early 1900s. Watering troughs were used year-round, placed at intersections throughout town, much like our modern-day gas stations, except they fueled and hydrated horses.
According to Ridgefield in Review by Silvio A. Bedini, this particular trough was first located at the triangle of Main and Catoonah Streets until 1922, when it was moved to the crossroads at Titicus. Following the flood of 1955, and the ensuing repairs made to the Titicus Bridge, the trough was yet again relocated and established in its present location.
While many watering troughs of the time were composed of hollowed-out logs fed by springs, this trough was the gift of the late John Ames Mitchell—a resident of Ridgefield at the time. Once a cartoonist and editor of Life, Mitchell made his mark on the town through this handsome gift.