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Water, water - everywhere
Random Thoughts, March 23
Random Thoughts_032323_Muscoda water tower
This 1970 photograph indicated a wooden water tank that served a Muscoda industry needed to be taken down.

MUSCODA - Water is a common and necessary need but most of us may not spend much time thinking about its availability. However, this spring and summer the construction of a new Muscoda watertower may bring more watery thoughts.

Construction of the new tower, located behind Muscoda Public Library, should get very interesting. How the big tank, now on the ground, will end up high in the air should be special for “sidewalk engineers”.

The new tower will be more than a big piece of steel that holds a portion of the constant need for water in our daily life. Watertowers can become part of the identity of a community. During the days when the Smiths often traveled across northern Iowa to see relatives in Nebraska, part of knowing where we were in our journey was recognizing the community water-towers.

It seems as though the style of the big water holding creations has changed a bit. I remember several of the towers across the prairies that we called “stand-pipes”, perhaps looking a bit like large culverts standing on end.

The need for water has a lot to do with the growth of our country. Back in the days when settlers were moving west to start farming, it was windmills that provided water for humans and livestock, and in some cases they still do. An old western story is that early cowboys and ranchers, lonesome and needing help, sometimes advertised in eastern newspapers – seeking wives. A perfect gal would be one who could climb a windmill and, if needed, shoot a rattlesnake, plus live in a house made of sod.

The tower being constructed here now will look a lot like the one that stands in the Industrial Park area.

Most Muscodians will remember the tower that stood behind the theater. It served the community well for many years providing needed water. Its long legs attracted a few daring young men. One of the duties of every Chief of Police was keeping the climbers off the tower. One such trespasser left his mark – a marijuana symbol on the tank.

In addition to the afore mentioned village towers, there was a time when a privately owned tower stood in the southeast part of our community. It provided water for a factory that produced wooden furniture and then switched to making ammunition boxes during World War II.

That tower had a wooden tank. The time came, in the 1970s, when a village board issue was getting the tower removed before it fell.

I don’t know if Muscoda had a tower near the railroad tracks where steam-powered locomotives took on water. I do recall a wooden tank on a tower near the railroad depot in the tiny village where I grew up. Long after the tank was gone I was told by a sister-in-law that her mother warned children to stay away from that tank with an open top. It sometimes attracted boys on hot summer days, “clothes not always required.”