CyPix: Rising to the sky–Marston Water Tower

Completed Marston Water Tower, in 1897, showing Morrill Hall on the right and Margaret Hall on the left.

Marston Water Tower,  1897, showing Morrill Hall on the right and Margaret Hall on the left.

The steel pointed top of the Marston Water Tower rising above campus is one the ISU campus landmarks, and it has an interesting history. It was designed by Anson Marston, Professor and Head (1892-1917) of the Department of Civil Engineering. 1894 saw a water shortage on campus so severe that classes had to be cancelled. The following year, the college decided to build a water tower. It was the first elevated steel water tower west of the Mississippi. It stands 168 feet tall, while the tank itself is  40 feet tall and 24 feet in diameter, holding 162,000 gallons. In 1978, the university became part of the city of Ames’ water system, and Marston Water Tower was no longer used. In 1981, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1987 it was restored. In 2007,  the American Water Works Association named the Marston Water Tower an “American Water Landmark.”

Watch the tower rise above campus in this series of construction photographs from 1897.

The beginning of construction of Marston Water Tower, showing Old Main in the background, March 9, 1897.

The beginning of construction of Marston Water Tower, showing Old Main in the background, March 9, 1897.

First stage of construction completed, March 18, 1897. Old Main is on the left, the Chemical and Physical Laboratory is on the right.

First stage of construction completed, March 18, 1897. Old Main is on the left, the Chemical and Physical Laboratory is on the right.

Progress on the water tower, March 22, 1897.

Progress on the water tower, March 22, 1897.

Construction begins on tank itself, April 22, 1897.

Construction begins on tank itself, April 22, 1897.

Construction nearly completed on the water tower, July 6, 1897.

Construction nearly completed on the water tower, July 6, 1897.

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