The large concrete structure reaching up towards the heavens has been a beacon marking the Tyler downtown area for more than half a century. But despite its familiarity as a landmark, it serves a greater purpose by storing two million gallons of water for the area's usage.
The sign indicates 750 people could fit in the pedestal of the tower if needed and Public Works Director Greg Morgan said when he first began with the city more than 15 years ago, there were still supplies in the tower in case it was needed to shelter residents in the event of nuclear fallout.
Each move made inside the structure sends off a ripple of echoes in the dark.
“There are taller concrete towers, but they typically have steel bowl and this is the only one I know that has a concrete bowl,” he said.
“That is not including the reinforced steel, the labor or any other materials. That $500,000 is for the concrete by itself,” he said.
One might ask why the tower was constructed of concrete, and officials said at the time that it was purely due to the fact it was the low bid.
According to an October 1958 article by Robert Fix in Water Works Engineering, it took 262 hours of concrete pumping with two twelve-hour shifts of 15 men working nonstop except for a one day break.
Fix stated in the article that the inside tank diameter was 98.5 feet and that the outer ring of the pedestal was fluted (the unique design of the pedestal) for aesthetic reasons.
There was 98,970 pounds of reinforcing steel used in the construction of the foundation along with 1,300 cubic yards of concrete, Fix said in the article.
He noted the project was part of a $5,600,000 bond issue passed in 1955, which also included improvements to existing water towers and other improvements to the public works structure.
Morgan said there was a move to list the site as a historical landmark, but because the water tower is a fully operational component of the city's infrastructure, that would not happen.
“Several years ago there was a call to paint the tower, but it was decided not to paint it because it is a like a beacon to the downtown area,” he said.
Morgan said a company was hired to power wash the tower a few years ago, and employees with the water department said every few years a team of inspectors dive into the tank and check for problems.
Throughout the years the tower and its 36-inch and 30-inch water mains have served the area and Morgan said he does not know of any time the tower has failed to work properly.
“We have had no major issues with the tower and we don't see any reason that we are going to have any issues,” he said.