The Corner Drug Soda Fountain has been an important part of the Teton Valley’s history and has been part of several budding romances and even a wedding ceremony. Soda fountains have been an important part of the history of pharmacies as a place for customers to wait while the pharmacist prepared the medication. In those days, very few prescriptions were bought from a wholesaler ready to dispense. The pharmacist would prepare the prescription from several basic ingredients. Often the pharmacist and the soda clerk would “create” new drinks for themselves to try during slow days in the pharmacy. The drink known as Ginger Ale is one creation that came about through a pharmacist and a soda fountain.
The original soda fountain was made in Europe in the early 1900s and shipped to Idaho for the Farr Candy Co. The original backstand boasts the letter “F” in stained glass. We think that Farrs Candy Co. either didn’t have a need for it any longer or it was part of a business deal to provide the fountain as the ice cream used at the fountain came from Farr’s. The fountain was originally a three piece unit with a marble front, an ice box for the bottom of the backstand and the backstand itself which had marble pillars and stained glass accents with a large mirror.
The fountain icebox was used as the refrigerator as this was before modern refrigeration had arrived in Teton Valley. The iceman would make his daily rounds through town looking for a colored card that the housewife or proprietor would place in the window telling him how much ice was needed. This way he could cut the ice and bring it inside all in one trip. The ice was cut in the winter from the San Diego Ponds south of town. These ponds were named after the pea companies who shipped peas via the railroad from Driggs to San Diego in the summer. The ice was stored in large sheds and covered in sawdust as insulation. The ice would last through the whole summer stored this way.
The fountain was taken apart in the 60’s after a small fire in the business next door prompted some remodeling. As part of the remodel, a lowered ceiling was installed in the drugstore to accommodate the new furnace ductwork. Several large windows and a doorway were also blocked in at this time. The ceiling was lowered about three feet which made it necessary to remove the top part of the backbar because it was too tall for the new lower ceiling. History tells us that the backbar lived in several places before it found a permanent home. These places included a bowling alley and it was also stored in a barn for a while. It now is featured in the front lobby of the museum in Driggs.
The drugstore continued operating the soda fountain without the backbar for about thirty years with just some pegboard in place. The woodwork on the icebox was painted white also.
When the current owners arrived, they made it a priority to clean up the old fountain and restore it to its former glory. A large mirror was brought in and hung over the pegboard. The paint was stripped off the woodwork on the icebox and a historically correct stain was applied and new glass was installed in the doors.
Local craftsman, Alan Smith, a local man who grew up in Driggs and was familiar with the fountain as a youth was hired to recreate the backbar, and resized the replica to fit in the lowered ceiling area. The columns are not part of the original but were added as a way to hide future plumbing that was required. Although the new backbar is not exactly as the original, we are pleased with the outcome. A wood bartop was also installed and has pictures of yesteryear underneath the glass for visitors to enjoy.