Watertower

A historical photo of the Marysville water tower in its early years.

 

The Marysville water tower celebrated its 100th birthday in November, remaining one of the most well-known landmarks for the city.

The tower is well liked now but the origins of the project were much more turbulent.

In the 1910s the city was receiving water from Lake Stevens.

“As Marysville was growing it was becoming clear that amount would not be adequate,” said Peter Condyles, vice president of the Marysville Historical Society.

A bond vote was held in November 1920 and was passed to build a water tower and purchase Edwards Springs, a water source near the Lakewood area that the city continues to use to this day.

The issue became more controversial at the City Council level though.

“The next month, in December, there was a campaign against the incumbent members,” said Condyles.

Central to the discussion was the size of the water district, which many felt was too small and therefore placed too high of a cost on Marysville residents and not enough on outlying areas.

“The [Marysville] Globe actually called the two sides the ‘wets’ and the ‘drys,’” said Condyles.

The three candidates seen as “drys” prevailed, although one candidate later clarified they were not opposed to the water tower.

“Negotiations continued and the water district was expanded to decrease the fee for those residents,” as a compromise, said Condyles.

The city ordered the tower from Chicago. “That is where most ‘witch-hat’ water towers come from, which is the informal name for that type of tower,” said Condyles.

On Nov. 17, 2921, the Marysville water tower began operation.

Since then it has been one of the more recognizable sites of the downtown area and part of the identity of Marysville.

“I think if you are an older member of the community you remember when it was actually in use as a utility,” said Condyles. “If you’re younger, like me, you remember going down to Comeford Park during the holidays and seeing it lit up."

Condyles said there are not a lot of water towers like Marysville’s tower left in Washington, and most are in eastern Washington.

Nearby towns like Mount Vernon and Blaine still have their towers, but those are not as visible, maintained or tied to the community as Marysville’s tower is, he said.

“We have a very unique tower here that you can see from I-5,” said Condyles.

Over the years the water tower has required funds to keep it maintained.

“There have been two times in recent memory where the conversation has come up about its future,” said Condyles. “Both times the residents said they would like to keep it."

In 1999 the roof needed work, and the Marysville Historical Society helped with some of those funds.

Last year the catwalk was replaced to ensure worker safety. Currently, a new protective coating is being applied to help keep the tower maintained.

Condyles said members of the historical society are excited to see the tower after it gets the new color and coat it is currently receiving.

A more complete history of the water tower is available petercondyles.medium.com.

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