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Weird water towers across the USA

Updated on March 2, 2009

They are standards of civilization, though their main technology is simple gravity. There is one in nearly every town across the country, and though they often go unnoticed due to their familiarity, they are also often the tallest structures in town.

They are water towers, and without them, we would all start missing our indoor running water real quickly.

With so many utilitarian towers dominating the skylines of small towns around the U.S., it was perhaps inevitable that some communities would utilize their biggest billboard to advertise or simply decorate their town. Often water towers simply have the town's name painted in large letters, perhaps accompanied by any bragging rights the town can claim through state football championships or celebrity citizens. A few towns take the decoration much farther, creating tourist attractions or works of art out of their water supply.

Organically Grown Water

Usually, the water-tower-as-art phenomenon is designed to reflect some core aspect of the town. One of the most famous examples is the Gaffney, SC water tower, officially known as the Peachoid. This James-and-the-Giant-Water-Tower roadside attraction was built to advertise the area's supremacy in growing peaches. Though Georgia is more famous as a peach state, South Carolina grows more peaches. At one point, the county Gaffney is located in produced more peaches than the entire state of Georgia.

Other agriculture-themed water towers include the Poteet, TX strawberry; and the Rochester, MN ear of corn. And in Luling, TX, instead of a water tower, they have a watermelon.

World's Largest

In some more industrialized cities, the water towers reflect not produce, but what is produced. In Licking, MO, the Rawlings sports equipment factory inspired what is reported to be the world's tallest baseball. The water tower in Collinsville, IL doubles as the world's largest bottle of catsup. The town of Stanton, IA, does not produce coffee, but it did produce the actress who played Mrs. Olson on Folger's commercials and on the sides of coffee cans. Stanton, therefore, has two water towers: a coffee pot and a 150,000-gallon coffee cup.

Temperature Control

Of course, many decorated towers have interesting stories behind their creation. Bartlesville, OK has three rather simple water towers grouped on top of a hill. Some local pranksters found it amusing to spray-paint the words "Hot", "Cold", and "Warm" on the sides of the 3 tanks. The vandals did so repeatedly, and each time the city painted over the graffiti, at great cost to the city budget. Finally, one creative thinker at city hall came up with a sure-fire way to keep the vandals from defacing the towers with the old joke. The solution? The city painted, in large, official lettering, the words "Hot", "Cold", and "Warm" on the three towers.

The reasons behind some towers remain a mystery, though, such as the alien-filled tower in Ogallala, NE. When dealing with a UFO, perhaps the mystery is supposed to remain unsolved.

Other Water Towers of note:


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    • profile image

      Mark Moller 8 years ago

      I have seen some really cool water towers... cities really can express themselves and their culture using designs and art.

    • profile image

      julia 10 years ago

      The story about the hot/warm/cold water towers you submitted above is incorrect. My brother Jim and his friend were the ones who originally did the old english hot and cold on the original two towers. The officials were so pleased it was something other than grafitti that they actually kept it! The third tower was later added with the city painting it hot/warm/cold.

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 10 years ago from Around the USA

      This is cool. We used to play a game when on the road to see who could find the most water towers.