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JPR Feature
Bottled Water   
Thursday May 26, 2005
By Dawna Curler

Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson

People today seem obsessed with bottled water. Whether it's a hike in the woods or an executive meeting, the omnipresent plastic water bottle is in the knapsack or on the table. Purified, spring, mineral, sparkling, or flavored--the choices are many. The context may be different now, but the concept of commercially bottled and mass distributed mineral water goes back to the nineteenth century.

Once glass bottles could be cheaply mass produced, botteling plants were established at mineral springs and "healthful" waters were packaged and distributed.

In 1891, John Wagner opened a bottling works a few miles east of Ashland, Oregon. He was the first in Southern Oregon to use crown-top bottles that he ordered from St. Louis. He later bought bottles embossed with the words "Siskiyou Natural Mineral Water" from the Holt Glass Works in Berkeley, California. Wagner made local deliveries by wagon to Hilt and Hornbrook over the California boarder and shipped his water by railroad to Portland and San Francisco.

The mineral water business dried up in the early years of the twentieth century. Wagner closed his bottling plant in 1913. The fickle public had other interests until the development of lightweight, recyclable bottles and slick ad campaigns brought bottled water back in favor.

Today's episode of As It Was was written by Dawna Curler, the program engineer is Raymond Scully.  I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society.  To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org

Scafani, David. "Siskiyou Soda Spring," Southern Oregon Heritage Today, Winter 2004, Vol. 6, No.1, p. 17 and  Nestle food company website, "Water, Case Studies, The history of bottled water,"

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