Bill Satre | General

A Massive Fountain, In A Dessert

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Fountain Hills, AZ and the Fountain That Made It Famous.

Why on earth would you put a massive fountain in the middle of a dessert town? The short answer is because they could. When they did, it was the largest fountain in the world.

Fountain Hills, AZ
The Fountain towers 300 feet above the man made lake as the center piece of this Phoenix suburb. The Superstition Mountains can be seen in the back ground.

As of now, Fountain Hills has the world’s fourth-tallest fountain. It was built in 1970 in Zürich, Switzerland by Robert P. McCulloch, the year before the reconstruction of the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, another of McCulloch’s projects.

Fountain Hills, AZ (artwork)
Various sculptures surround the lake, many use are meant to highlight the huge plume of water in the background.
Fountain Hills, AZ (night light)
Colored by LED lights at night. The illumination is made more impressive by the absence of street lights and other “light pollution” in the area.









Fountain Hills, AZ (landmark fountain)
Visitors to Fountain Hills gather to see the spectacle and enjoy the park surrounding the lake and fountain from many vantage points.

The fountain sprays water for about 15 minutes every hour on the hour between 9am and 9pm. The plume rises from a concrete water-lily sculpture in the center of a large man-made lake. The fountain, driven by three 600 horsepower turbine pumps, sprays water at a rate of 7,000 gallons (26,000 l; 5,800 imp gal) per minute through an 18-inch nozzle. With all three pumps under ideal conditions, the fountain reaches 560 feet in height, though in normal operation only two of the pumps are used, with a fountain height of around 300 feet (as seen in my photos). When built it was the world’s tallest fountain, a record it held for over a decade before a bigger one was built in Saudi Arabia.

Obviously, the fountain is the center piece of the community of Fountain Hills in much the same way as our water tower in Brainerd, or the Walleye in Garrison. The community of Fountain Hills is just north east of Scottdale, AZ and rests in the hills above the Phoenix metro area.

Another unique feature of the Fountain Hills city, is that they are an International Dark Sky Community. Only 34 communities in the world have chose to seek this designation. The Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association (FHDSA) worked with town council and town staff to change outdoor lighting and sign ordinances to address light pollution. This designation is a result of both geography and lighting ordinances. The community is shielded from the lights of the larger cities in the Phoenix metro region by the McDowell Mountains to the west. The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation to the east, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community to the south, and the McDowell Mountain Regional Park all help the Town preserve its dark skies. The absence of street lights and the presence of only low-impact outdoor lighting creates an outstanding environment for stargazing.

Fountain Hills, AZ (fountain)
It’s hard to perceive the height of this fountain in photographs. It rises 300 feet above the lake. That’s more than 2 Brainerd Water Towers tall.