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Traveling Tubs on the Wagon Trail

By Alan Knight

Photo Credit: www.peachridgeglass.com

It was 1867 in a small mining town called Denver, Colorado. With signs of winter fast approaching, the sun set at 4:30 p.m.and didn’t rise again for nearly 15 hours. With the thought of the long, cold hours that lay ahead, there was only one thing on the miners’ minds — whiskey! The hard-drinking miners knew they didn’t have enough liquid gold to make it through the winter, and this made them grow restless.

Determined not to face the harsh mountain weather without it, they hired a group of Irish Teamsters to transport 40 wagon loads of whiskey through the Colorado plains. To ensure its safe arrival, the US Cavalry was commissioned to escort the load. 

However, when a crusading group of women from the Temperance movementlearned of the shipment, they were furious. They formulated a plan to intercept and destroy the “evil cargo” on its way to Denver. Dressed in their finest Victorian gowns, they packed up their wagons and headed west for the 185-mile journey, singing as they went.
Image courtesy of fotolauncho.com
Knowing it would take at least a month of hard travel through dangerous territory, these ladies of refinement turned their wagons into little mobile homes. They packed every luxury their prairie schooners could hold. There were tables, chairs, linens and silverware, colorful rugs and lamps, even pianos and several bathtubs.
The Temperance ladies were committed to their cause. But they drew the line when it came to traveling without their washtubs.  And these were no ordinary tubs.  We aren’t just talking galvanized buckets. These traveling tubs were Victorian furniture, replete with intricately decorated modesty covers.  All these ladies had to do was slip into the tub while another one poured hot water through an opening at their feet.
Image courtesy of movpins.com
Meanwhile, several other groups became aware of the shipment and decided they, too, wanted a bit of the joy juice. Local Native Americans who were interested in easing the pain of an approaching winter sought to intercept the shipment.  To make matters worse, the Irish Teamsters began to grumble and soon decided to strike. Receiving word their precious cargo was in peril, the miners created a posse that headed eastward, ostensibly to recover their wayward shipment. With so many opposing parties looking to get their hands on the whiskey, the wagon train came to a halt … in the middle of nowhere. Inevitably, the women caught up with the whiskey wagon train as it made its way west, and demanded demolition of the alcoholic “mountain dew.” (BTW: To learn the fate of the whiskey wagon train, you’ll need to rent the movie, “Hallelujah Trail,” made in 1965 starring Burt Lancaster and Lee Remick.)

  

Early Bathtub History

Photo Credit: dreamstime.com

But in 1867, it wasn’t only women that enjoyed the luxury of bathing on the trail. It’s reported that the Bathtubs that existed during the antebellum period before indoor plumbing came into vogue were large but relatively light containers. They were usually hidden away and only pulled out when needed, perfect for on-the-road washing. The typical mid-19th century bathtub was a product of the tinsmith’s craft, commonly made from a shell of sheet copper, or zinc. The use of copper continued into the mid-1900s as a liner for wood-enclosed tubs. Commanders and officers of the US Cavalry also enjoyed some downtime relaxing in traveling tubs.

More commonly, tubs back then were steel-cased. By 1867, tub manufacturers started using cast iron, which had been used for several years for making sinks and toilets. The problem with metal was corrosion. Copper and zinc discolored readily around water and soap, and the seams of sheet metal were hard to keep clean. Iron and steel, of course, rusted eventually, even under the most meticulous coat of paint.  Bathtubs made of lead were only found in more progressive homes equipped with early water-heating devices. As running water became more common in the latter 19th century, bathtubs became more prevalent and less portable.

  
Birth of the Modern Bathtub

Photo Credit: brettcogburn.com

While some members of the US Calvary and the Temperance ladies were enjoying their high society tubs, the miners most often bathed in horse troughs, if at all. Bathing wasn’t considered a necessity by these hard-working men. In fact, personal hygiene was considered something of a nuisance. Over time, as bathing became more fashionable, more tub manufacturers entered the market and began improving designs. Out with the horse trough and in with cast iron bathtubs with porcelain interiors on “Clawfoot”pedestals. These tubs rose to popularity in the 19th century and remain so today.  

To combat the corrosion problem, tub makers began successfully marketing porcelain-enameled, cast iron bathtubs, a process that remains broadly the same to this day. Some modern bathtubs are made of acrylic or fiberglass; occasionally, waterproof finished wood. In addition to the advanced materials used in making today’s modern bathtubs, many new and innovative bathtub designs have entered the market.

Photo Credit: huffingtonpost.com

One such design is the Walk-in tub that is perfect for seniors. These bathtubs provide a great safety advantage to handicapped persons or those with limited mobility. Not only are these tubs highly functional, there is also a range of hydrotherapeutic options available. Walk-in tubs are perfect for everyday bathing needs, but importantly, they also provide personal safety and independence wrapped in therapeutic luxury.

Tub King’s cast iron/porcelain Clawfoot and Pedestal tubs as well as our therapeutic Walk-in Our tubs are made to fit in your bathroom. Or, if you want one for your covered wagon, we can hitch you up with that, too.


In this article, I first gave a brief historical account of the development bathtubs. I highlighted a story made famous by the motion picture, “Hallelujiah Trail,” about a skirmish between whisky-thirsty miners and Temperance-minded women of the Old West. It then goes on to talk about elegant cast iron/porcelian Clawfoot and Pedestal tubs as well as safety-minded Walk-in tubs.

If you found this article useful, please share it with your family, friends and co-workers. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the Comment section of this blog. Thanks again for visiting with us.

Tub King Customer Walk-in Tub Testimonial 

If you’d like to receive a FREE Clawfoot Tub Buyers’ Guide, fill out the form below.

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Have a question? Feel free to contact me at the number or email listed at the end of this article and my brother, Alan, who heads up Tub King, will personally get back to you. It’s been my pleasure sharing this information with you.

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Alan Knight has many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. His companies not only provide superior products, they are also multi-award winners, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” four years running. If you’d like to contact Tub King, call (800) 409-3375 or (800) 843-4231; or send an email to Alan@tubking.com.


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Romantic Movies That Featured a Porcelain Clawfoot or Pedestal Bathtub Scene


By Kerry Knight
Photo Credit: bhmpics.com
The British author John Galsworthy once wrote, “Love has no age, no limit; and no death.” When you think about it, the same could be said for a physical substance we humans can’t live without: water  Embrace to the two and you’ve a potent mix for romance … especially in the bathtub. 

If you’re a fan of romantic dramas or comedy films, you have probably seen segments featuring an amorous bathroom scene in a huge porcelain Clawfoot or Pedestal tub.  You have to admit, these elegant bathing beauties are a perfect setting for love.  In this segment of Tub Talk, we will visit several of the best romantic movies that featured these tubs.  Here are some of my favorites: 
Photo Credit: kiss925.com
Pretty Woman.  Who can forget the great roles Richard Gere and Julia Roberts played in this film? The 1990 movie, set in Los Angeles, is about a wealthy businessman named Edward, who is on a business trip.  (By the way, Roy Orbison’s song, “Pretty Woman,” helped popularize the movie.  Gere’s character needs an escort to accompany him to some social events, so hires a beautiful prostitute.  There are a couple of classic scenes in the bathtub.  The first has Roberts listening to her Sony Walkman and singing in the bathtub.  The second scene has Roberts holding Gere in the tub as he leans back against her, relaxing from a fast-paced business life that he hates.  She becomes his great escape.  Roberts was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actress; won the Golden Globes; with Gere being nominated for the Golden Globes.  The film won “Best Comedy” in the People’ Choice Awards.  You might rename the movie, “Falling in Love in the Tub.”

Photo Credit: hookedonhouses.com
Pillow Talk.  This film goes back a few decades, in 1959.  Rock Hudson and Doris Day were ideal in this giddy comedy about two people who share a party phone line (Boy, is this one dated.)  Hudson played a successful songwriter and Day was an interior decorator.  Their early phone conversations are rather cool and apathetic.  He pictures her as some jealous old maid.  Seemingly every time she picks up the phone to use it, he’s trying to sing some new love song to one of his admiring females. The bathtub scene is classic, even by today’s standards as we see them both (through the use of split screen), in their separate rooms and bathtubs, talking to each other on the phone.  As Hudson finds out just how beautiful and charming Day’s character is their romance begins to blossom. 
Photo Credit: entertainment.time.com
Out of Sight, featuring with Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney, was released in 1998.  There was tremendous chemistry between these two principal actors.  Steven Soderbergh, the brilliant director, lights the bathtub scene with a soft red glow.  Sure, it’s only a dream, but the scene in which Lopez’ character, U.S. Marshall, Karen Sisco, climbs into the bathtub, fully clothed and wearing  high heels, with career criminal Jack Foley (played by Clooney), absolutely radiates with sexual heat and sophistication.

Photo Credit: talkspas.com
It’s Complicated was released in 2009, starring Steve Marin, Meryl Streep and Alex Baldwin.  While attending their son’s graduation, a divorced couple (Streep and Baldwin) reignites the spark in their prior relationship.  The only problem is, they’re now divorced and Baldwin’s character has already married a younger woman.  Baldwin and Streep ignore the fact they were once married to each other before engaging in a torrid affair and fall in love all over again.  The scene by the bathtub illustrates how much Baldwin likes the changes that Streep has made in her life.  Jake says, “I’m so glad you stopped doing bikini waxes.  You’ve gone native.”  It is a laugh a minute with great performances by all. 

attending their son’s graduation, a divorced couple (Streep and Baldwin) reignites the spark in their prior relationship.

Photo Credit: ilybon.neti.net
The Reader, released in 2008, starred Kate Winslet, who won an Oscar and Golden Globes for “Best Actress.” The movie is set in post-World War II Germany.  A young man has an affair with an older woman, and does not see her again for many years.  They reunite as she defends herself in a war-crime trial.  During the earlier time of seduction, he reads to her while they take a bath together in a Clawfoot tub.  Somehow it seems to bring her out of an emotional fog.

Photo Credit: youtube.com
The Notebook was a real crowd favorite back in 2005, based on a popular novel by Nicholas Sparks.  James Garner, who plays the aged version of Ryan Gosling, was nominated for an Oscar for his role.  Gena Rowlands, who plays the aged version of Rachel McAdams, won the Golden Satellite Award for “Best Actress” in a supporting role.  And both Gosling and McAdams won a Movie MTV Award for “best kiss.”  The bathtub scene is purely romantic, as the two lovers fight against all odds to spend their lives together.
Photo Credit: toutlecine.challenges.fr
Splash. Back in the mid-80s, this film became one of the most successful box office releases of the romantic comedy genre. It starred Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah.  Hanks played a man who is saved from drowning by a real-life mermaid.  They, of course, fall in love and the comedy is endless.  She’s able to function as a normal human female on land, for a while, but the fun begins when she’s taking a bath as a mermaid and Hanks wants to come into the bathroom.  This bathtub scene is priceless.
In all of these movie selections, one prop stands out above all others: the bathtub.  It allows the actors to present their emotional vulnerability as well as their seductive playfulness.  These Clawfoot and Pedestal bathtub beauties will always remind us of some of the greatest romantic movies of all time.
In this article, I talked about and featured some of the most memorable bathtub scenes in major romantic comedy films. I discussed some of the plot scenarios, mentioned the leading actors, listed key awards and nominations, described some of the bathroom scenes, and more. 
Testimonial for Cast Iron Tub
If you found this article useful, please share it with your family, friends and co-workers. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the Comment section of this blog. Thanks again for visiting with us.

If you’d like to receive a FREE Clawfoot Tub Buyers’ Guide, click here.  Have a question? Feel free to contact me at the number or email listed at the end of this article and I’ll personally get back to you. It’s been my pleasure sharing this information with you.  On behalf of all of us at Tub King, here’s wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.
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Alan and Kerry Knight are owners of Tub King, Inc., and SeniorBathtub.com  in Jacksonville, Florida. Together they have many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. Their companies not only provide superior products, they are also award winners, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” four years running. If you’d like to contact them, call (800) 409-3375 or (800) 843-4231; or send an email to Alan@tubking.com.

  
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