A Tale of Two Water Towers

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by Daris A Nevil

31 March 2015

New water tower at West Fork siding, Annetta Valley & Western Railroad

Every railroad is dependent upon it customers for survival. A healthy business climate in the areas of service will help guarantee success for the railroad. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the railroad to do all it can to spur growth in local business. Each siding, no matter how small, can add to the bottom line.

The managers of the Annetta Valley & Western Railroad considered how to encourage growth in the towns and sidings it services. Many issues were discussed, but one in particular "bubbled" to the top: water. It is recognized that every town and siding relies on a plentiful water supply for successful growth.

The most obvious example is the cattle exchange at West Fork. This siding has relied on water pumped from the ground by a windmill. The increase in the number of cattle shipped through the exchange has outgrown the amount of water that can be supplied by the windmill.

Another siding with increasing water needs is Shady Rest. Real estate magnates are promoting an industrial development next to the spur track. A water tower is required to provide the needs of the industries targeted for the development.

The AV&WRR board of directors approved loans for the construction of two 75,000 gallon water towers, one each for West Fork and Shady Rest. The railroad oversaw the construction and erection of the two towers. The project was completed on March 27, 2015.


I first saw this style water tower at Jack Haskin's Able Springs & North Texas Railroad. There are several such water towers at various towns and siding on his layout. They add a touch of realism, as most Texas towns boast at least one water tower.

A photo of the Able Springs & North Texas Railroad. Notice the water town on the left edge of the photo. Photo by Rick White.

Surprisingly, these model water towers are inexpensive to construct. The water tank is a steel, single use freon tank. You can obtain these from refrigeration repair companies. They are disposed of once empty. Another source is disposable helium tanks sold at Walmart and other retail outlets.

The legs and cross-braces are rebar, which is available at most building supply stores. The 1/2 inch rebar used for the legs is purchased in ten foot lengths. Simply cut them in half for the proper length of five feet.

Other Water Tower Sightings