In 1902, young Charlie Beinhorn became the proprietor of a store on Pine Street near the Southern Pacific railroad tracks in Exeter, California. This store, named Granite Liquor, was 75 feet east of F Street, or where as of 2023, “The Stag” bar is located.
Beinhorn had a water trough commissioned by the Rocky Point Granite Company on the north slope of Rocky Hill, just east of Exeter. This quarry was the first industry in the Exeter area. The trough was completed and delivered to the Pine street location. Charlie attached leather to the rim of the trough when he found that horses were chewing on the granite while waiting for their riders to finish their business in the store. In 1906, Charlie applied to the Tulare County Board of Supervisors in Visalia for a permit to change the liquor store to a saloon on his location. At the July 1906 Supervisors meeting a large crowd of Exeter citizens attended, protesting vigorously this request for a liquor license in Exeter. Intimidated by the crowd, the supervisors did not make a ruling and tabled the vote for approval.
Long before prohibition outlawed the sale and distribution of alcohol nationally in 1920, every town in the nation passed laws to either support or prohibit alcohol within their town limits. Since Exeter was not an incorporated city, permits to operate a saloon had to be approved by the county.
Four months later, in November 1906, the County Supervisors approved Beinhorn’s request and the Granite Saloon was open for business. Two years later, when Charlie’s first son was born, he decided he did not want to raise his child around a saloon, sold the business and began his career as a real estate agent in Exeter. In the early teens, horses were replaced with automobiles and the trough became a relic. When it became a trash receptacle, they decided to move it off Pine Street to a storage area where it stayed for 38 years.
In 1940, the City leaders decided that the trough should be preserved on city property as a “relic of the past” and installed it at Joyner Park on Pine Street where it remains to this day. In 2022, Beinhorn’s granddaughter, Gretchen Simms visited Exeter from her southern California home and mentioned to the City Council her family connection to the trough. Once aware of this connection, the Center for Art, Culture and History-Exeter (CACHE) was pleased to credit Charlie Beinhorn for his trough and a plaque commemorating this novel piece of Exeter history was created.
The plaque was dedicated on June 10, 2023. Charlie Beinhorn’s descendants were present at the dedication.