Water towers are a staple in a small town skyline. They’re often the thing noticed before you can even spot the town.
I think my admiration of water towers started when I was a kid. My dad worked for the city of Long Prairie and once in a blue moon I would get to go to work with him while he made checks on the city water facilities. It wasn’t exactly a normal thing for a kid to be able to do, but I thought it was awesome.
That coupled with my love of all things symbolic to small towns added up to really liking water towers in my adult life.
For the most part, every town has a water tower, and it is usually unique to them. Pequot Lakes, Minnesota has their’s painted like a bobber, Circleville, OH has one that is pumpkin-shaped, Lexington, KY’s looks like a giant paper Dixie Cup.
Closer to my home in central Minnesota, there was recently an uprising of citizens from the small town of Freeport to save their iconic “Smiley Face” water tower. Their tower that sat on the side of I-94 has been a smiling face for travelers since the 1970’s. The water tower itself hasn’t held water since 2012 when a new one was constructed on the opposite side of town. They city was faced with the tough decision to either tear down the smiling structure, or spend a large amount of money to repair it. The town rallied behind their beloved landmark and ultimately ended up saving it, and being able to afford a fresh paint job.
For centuries, civilizations and communities were built around water sources, and I think deep down we all love our water towers because of that. Obviously in 2020 technology is different and towns don’t need to be built based on water supply, but that basic human need is still there. I think it leads to a deeper appreciation of the structure that holds the water for us, and in the process, holds a little piece of our hearts as well.