Have you ever wondered about the intricacies of your local water tower? What does it actually do? Why is it shaped like that? Who does it serve? Water towers have a simple function but provide an integral purpose to the community in both use and identity. Learn more about them below.
The Function of a Water Tower
Water towers provide a reserve of water that functions due to height and pressure. A water tower must be of a certain height (and thus, deliver a certain pressure) in order to adequately supply water to nearby homes and businesses.
While water towers come in a variety of shapes and volumes, a typical tower holds a reserve of water large enough to supply a day’s worth of water to the community. In fact, your local water tower may hold well over one million gallons of water!
In addition to serving the important function of delivering clean and safe drinking water to the community, a water tower can showcase the identity of a community. Far from just being quirky and charming welcome signs to a town, a water tower can display town pride, serve as a testament to a community’s rich history, or as a celebration of what a town has to offer visitors.
Unique Minnesota Water Towers
The Rochester water tower is built in the shape of a corn cob and has become a well-known landmark and symbol of the original Libby Foods plant in Rochester. The Lindstrom Teapot water tower in Lindstrom pays homage to the town’s sister city in Tingsryd, Sweden. The tea pot itself is painted with the words,” Valkommen till Lindstrom,” which is translated to mean, “Welcome to Lindstrom.”
Certain water towers, while no longer in use, still stand as reminders of a town’s rich history. The original water tower in Brainerd, which was put out of use in 1960, was the first all-concrete and elevated tank used in America. The architecture of the Prospect Park Water Tower in Minneapolis—locally known as the Witch’s Hat Water Tower—spurred the community to protect the tower from demolition in 1955. It has since been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been rumored to have been the inspiration for Bob Dylan’s song “All Along the Watchtower.”
Water towers are among the first things to greet you when you drive into a town. The small town of Waite Park distinguishes itself from the greater St. Cloud community with a vibrant yellow water tower featuring a smiling face. Pequot Lakes features a water tower in the form of a fishing bobber signaling that you are indeed in the Great North and surrounded by lakes, forests, and the great outdoors.
Water towers are also often iconic landmarks in their own right. Challenge yourself to find the history of your local water tower. For more information on water works, visit the Minnesota Section of the American Water Works Association.