Warren Moser has the fire hydrant presented to Steve Martin in 1986 on the lawn of his North Shore home. He rescued it from a campground in Harrison Hot Springs.

Steve Martin’s fire hydrant found

A hydrant presented by the Nelson fire department to actor Steve Martin in 1986 is now a North Shore lawn ornament.

A hydrant presented by the Nelson fire department to actor Steve Martin as a parting gift following filming of Roxanne in 1986 is now a North Shore lawn ornament — after being rescued from a campground where it was bound for the scrap heap.

The hydrant bears the weathered but legible hand-painted inscription “Presented to Steve Martin by the Nelson Fire Dept 28 Aug ’86.”

Steve Thornton took a photo of the presentation, which ran in the Daily News the following day with the caption: “From fire chief to fire chief: Nelson (BC) fire chief Harry Sommerville presented Nelson (Wash.) fire chief Steve Martin with a heritage-style fire hydrant Thursday as filming for Roxanne drew to a close. Ald. Sharon Heflin, who played an important part in bringing Roxanne to Nelson, looked on. Martin said his dog would enjoy the gift.”

The Nelson fire department has a photocopy of the photo signed by Martin, as well as a second photocopy inscribed “Harry – Thanks a million for your help with Roxanne, Steve Martin” and an original print of an alternate shot. The latter was printed last year in the Star with a story about the fire hall’s centennial and again recently in a series about the movie.

The last time it ran, local resident Perry Hale let us know the hydrant is now in Warren and Christine Moser’s front yard on Crystal Springs Road. How it ended up there is a “quite a story,” Warren says.

He happened upon it many years ago at the Bigfoot campground in Harrison Hot Springs, of all places, nearly lost among some overgrown shrubs. The campground’s longtime owner bought it from a junk dealer for $75 or $100, but how that man acquired it isn’t known. Moser tried unsuccessfully to find him.

When the campground was redeveloped six or seven years ago, the new owner didn’t want it. The hydrant would’ve been lost had Moser not stepped in.

“It was bound for the scrapyard because they were putting in a new roadway and RV path,” he says. “I said ‘I’m from Nelson, I’m one of the contractors, and I’ll gladly take it off your hands.’”

A backhoe removed the hydrant which Moser and his brother then loaded into the back of a truck. He estimates it weighs about 400 lbs.

He brought it home and installed it in his front yard — although it’s purely ornamental and isn’t hooked up to any water system. “The neighbours all wondered what we were doing,” he laughs.

Why the hydrant was described in the newspaper as “heritage-style” is unclear, because it’s nothing of the sort. It’s just a conventional hydrant, manufactured by Terminal City Ironworks of Vancouver.

What’s interesting, though — and not apparent from the black and white newspaper photo — is that it’s green. Current fire chief Simon Grypma says Nelson has never had green hydrants and former chief Harry Sommerville recalls it was red when he presented it to Martin.

Presumably it wouldn’t fit in Martin’s suitcase, so Christine Moser speculates it was packed up with the rest of the movie’s props and trucked to the Lower Mainland before somehow falling into the junk dealer’s hands.

Sommerville was surprised to learn of the hydrant’s current whereabouts, but said he kept two hydrants actually used in the movie, one of which he’s since donated to the fire hall museum.

The Mosers say if they ever move, they’d likely donate their hydrant to the museum as well. Grypma said they’d be happy to have it.

Just Posted

RDCK calls for reversal of Sinixt extinction

The board opposed a land transfer to the Westbank First Nation this week

Nelson city council to update banner policy

Council will revisit the wording of the policy at its December meeting

Forecasters promote avalanche safety awareness

Avalanche Canada advising backcountry enthusiasts to get proper training and equipment.

Meteorite fragments found near Crawford Bay

The pieces came from the fireball that exploded over Kootenay Lake in September

Nelson honours veterans on Remembrance Day

About 200 people gathered at Nelson’s cenotaph on Saturday to pay their respects to Canada’s veterans

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Man pleads guilty to Leafs recycling depot theft

Dezmond Waggoner had been charged with theft over $5,000

Nelson Leafs stretch winning streak to six

Jack Karran scored twice in the Leafs 6-3 win over Fernie

Nelson city hall selling bear-proof garbage bins

The city has purchased 100 bins and is charging residents $205

COLUMN: Will West Kootenay forests survive?

As with most things around ecology, the answer is not simple, says columnist Greg Utzig

Julien Locke races to NST World Cup berth

Black Jack cross-country skier Julien Locke races to first place at World Cup qualifier

B.C. sport groups to address child sex abuse in sports

viaSport is organizing a full day of education in association with Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Coaching Association of Canada.

Most Read