The Historic Manistique Water Tower

and Schoolcraft County Museum


          Deer St. Manistique, Michigan 49854
             compiled by Alex Meron 1988

WATER, has played a main part in the History of Manistique.
First it was by the waterways, that Canal boats, sailing
ships, steamers, or canal towboats, fed settlers into
Michigan. Coming by way of Lakes Erie, Huron, the Detroit
and St. Clair Rivers, and the Erie Canal.

SETTLERS, made camp near the water, building where water
wheels or man made dams increased flow to operate lumber
mills. The village of Manistique drilled several artesian
wells, with the wells tapped for use of the fire pumps, but
this source proved inadequate.

In 1901 we still had six draymen namely- Martin O'Hara, "
George Meron, A.C. Anderson, Dell Razy, Gotlief Keifert,and
Dave La Marbe, who in the early part of the week were kept
busy hauling water in barrels, to the hotels, homes and
business places. The rest of the time they hauled freight.

The City Council, created a Public Works Board to study the
water situation and submit their recommendations.

On August 22, 1904 it was suggested the Board hire George W.
Sturetevant a consulting engineer to survey the City needs.

On March 13, 1905 Mr. Sturetevant's report was submitted to
the Council by the Board of Public Works, results as
follows- Indian River as the source of supply, by way of the
Brewery Dam by a 16" gravity main to a point on Weston
Avenue about where the Paper Mill dam is now located.
Estimated cost at $125,000.00.

A proposition was submitted to the voters of the City, as
authorized by the State Legislature, on April 3, 1905, the
electors passed the general obligation bond issue by a vote
of 688 "yes" to 161 "no" votes.

On July 27, 1906 Council accepted the report of the Public
Works Board with cost of sewer system at $53,965.92 the
waterworks system at $78,429.85 over all cost $132,495.77.
Contruction was completed and tested. This system served the
city for 15 years until a water shortage to fight fires,
called for change.

April 3, 1914 City Public Works Committee concerned about
water, system inadequate to supply City of Manistique and
new Industries.

October 4, 1920 it was recommended the City borrow
$97,000.00 to construct a new pumping station, and auxiliary
storage for 200,000 gallons and enlarge the distribution
system. A bond issue was placed on the ballot November 2,
1920, but it was rejected. The second ballot on December 14,
1920, carried with a yes vote of "689" yes, "212" no, a two
thirds majority.

The project was completed in a short time. At this same time
the present water tower on Deer Street was constructed with
the pumping station placed on the floor level. Also, the dam
at the site of the present pumping station was constructed
and a 24" wooden gravity main was laid between the dam and
the water tower. The old settling tank, located about 1200
feet north of the water tower, constructed in the 1906
program, was still kept in use.

On Thursday October 7, 1920 the pioneer Tribune carried the
following. ..byline-

A RESOLUTION.............

This item states, the desire of the City to erect its new
pumping station on land donated by the Consolidated Lumber
Company for park purposes. Along with the erection of the
station the city intends beautifying and improving the
property so the spirit of its contract with the donors will
be carried out. (There was some wheeling and dealing before
this was accepted by Mr. Gero, who in a trade off wanted
grading and paving of the Terrace Addition owned by him.)


On Tuesday of this week, CONTRACTOR Friedolf Danielson put a
force of men to work at the city park located at the west
end of the city bridge and within a very few days the laying
of the foundation will be underway.

The proposed site is suitably adapted for the purpose
intended and the building when completed will be very
attractive. Besides containing the pumping plant it will
support a two hundred thousand gallon storage tank and will
be large enough to generate its own power should the
necessity ever arise.

July 21, 1921, Pioneer Tribune--- HOISTING TOWER FOR NEW
STATION- Foundation of Building finished; moulds being

A wooden tower has been erected sixty feet in height about
twenty feet west of the building. This tower will be used to
hoist concrete and other material which will be contained in
barrows and buggies. Platforms will run from the tower to
the top of the building and these platforms will be at all
times a trifle higher that the construction work in order
that the cement may be poured rapidly and easily. The total
height less that one hundred or one hundred twenty feet
above ground.

At the same time an item dated-- July 21, 1921 reads--
BEGINS $2400 JOB YESTERDAY. Pipe on Ground--- will employ
Considerable Force and push work.

The next phase of the construction of Manistique's $100,000
pumping plant and tower was began yesterday when Stensrud,
The Marquette Contractor began the ditch in which will be
laid the twenty-four inch gravity main.

This pipe line will extend from the reservoir to the pumping
station is made of white pine in ten foot lengths.

The main will run along side the flume wall on the West side
of the river and will be between the wall and the M & L.S.
yard track.

The last car of building stone having arrived the work on
the pumping station will now proceed without halt until the
tower reaches an additional height of thirty-eight feet,
when the building will be ready for the steel. Mr. Danielson
is making every effort to complete the bricklaying before
bad weather sets in.

October 20, 1921, STEEL WORKERS ARRIVE IN CITY---Tank for
Water Station is the Next Job On the Pumping station
Contract. Five expert steel workers from Chicago are in town
for the purpose of erecting the 200,000 gallon steel tank
which is to go on top of the new pumping station. The
material for the job and the contract is in the hands of the
Chicago Bridge and Iron Company.


Having been held up by delayed arrivals of materials, the
contractor probably will not finish the station this year
and the installation of the machinery will probably take
place early in the spring.

The brick work, which the masons are now engaged upon, would
have been completed in December had it not been for the
difficulty in securing the Italian masons, many of whom are
working on other jobs.

The 200,000 gallon steel tank which caps the structure and
which is 37 feet in height, is also finished. It will be
covered and left ready for the water when the new pumps are
installed and the mains connected up.

BY BOARD-- will not be resumed until favorable spring
weather sets in.-- Board Meets Monday-- Brick Work is
Completed- 75 Days given as the Final time.

The last of the brick work on the new pumping station having
been completed several days ago and since the weather was
unfit for the completion of the pouring of concrete, the
public works stops work until spring.

When the concrete is put on the exterior, the station will
be completed. Inside remains to be done. Speculation that
the interior work would be carried on during the winter
months, has been settled by the action of the board.

The work was began by Friedolf Danielson, local contractor
in the early part of last July. Along with the time in
securing the masons, material shipments, delayed work.

Mr. Danielson has contracted himself, to complete the entire
job within seventy-five days or pay a penalty of $25.00 per
day after expiration of this time.

27 September 1922 ---PUMP STATION IS TAKEN OVER- City will
begin operations Monday; Work is approved.

Victor Marin, water commissioner turns on the switch in
pumping station.

Pumping station for Manistique was discussed over five
years. 1914, WWI- delay, 1918, estimates were secured, 1920
figures revised, bonds issued, contract let on June 15,

1921, ground broken on June 16, 1921.
Cost- engineering & station $95,000.
      Station alone          63,000.
      Pumps                   9,040.
      Meters                    840.
      Steel                   8,070.
      Engineering             7,000.

signed City Council.

May 2, 1923-- NOTICE-- Ashes wanted to help fill low places
around Water Works Park on deer Street. Signed City Council

The next act by the City was to order all who had ashes to
deposit them at the tower site.

NATIONAL BUILDERS MAGAZINE-- dated August 1923 carried a
picture of the Water Tower construction in progress-- along
with the engineer drawings, the building of the water tower
was known nationally due to it's unique design.

American Engineering Record, An inventory of Historic
Engineering and Industrial Sites.


This system served Manistique until about 1951 when
extensive damage to the old wooden gravity mains required
the City Council to consider improvements, Francis
Engineering Company of Saginaw, Michigan, was consulted.
Resulting in the recommendation to build a new pumping
station, bring water to the water tower in pressure mains'.
Estimated cost $250,000.00.

Revenue bonds issued in 1953. Contract awarded to Proksch
Construction Company of Iron River, Michigan. with the new
pumping station in operation in 1954.

After the relocation and building of the present water
system and storage tank the Water Tower was used as various
offices in connection with the City management, local
Justice of Peace office, Chamber of Commerce and Tourist
Comfort Station, but vandalism and repairs badly needed took
it's toll.

From 1973 to the present (1988), the Schoolcraft Historical
Society with permission of the City Council, co-operation of
the various Civic Groups, the Bicentennial Committee, and
volunteers. Tried to secure funding to preserve the
building. By first having it designated a HISTORICAL SITE,
followed by the structure being listed in the National
Register of Historical Sites. Becoming a State Historical
site in June 1979 and registered by the National Park
Service, Department of the Interior, October 26, 1981.

It was the long range plans of the Society to have
Telescopes, and make a Tourist Observation Tower at the top,
with concession, and comfort station. This would enhanced
the Historical Park Area and perhaps help maintain and
support the Historical Society Museum and Park Site.

                      BUILDING FACTS...

The structure is 137 ft. 6 in. high from the base of the
foundation to the top of the stack and rests on solid rock.
It is 38 ft. wide on the outside and 33 ft. wide inside. The
outside wall is built octagonal in shape but the inside wall
is made with sixteen sides in order to provide greater
rigidity and heavier wall sections at the eight exterior
corners upon which the entire load of the steel storage tank
is carried.

Foundation is concrete, lower section of the tower brick
with Bedford limestone trim, and the upper section brick
with a concrete cornice cast in place.

Storage tank is 44 ft. high, 30 ft. in diameter and has a
capacity of 200,000 gallons.

350 cubic yard of concrete were used in the foundation and
210 cu. yard were used in the ornamental top which is 18 ft.
high, and has a cornice which projects 38 in. out from the
wall. To complete the mason work, 341000 brick, and 3000 cu.
ft. of Bedford stone were used, and all mason work had to be
done from the outside scaffold as the space between the t~nk
and the brick was only 18 in. wide.

Alvord, Burdick & Howson were the designing engineers and
the architectural design was by B.A. Mattson, Chicago, Ill.
General contractor was Friedolf Danielson, Manistique MI.,
who finished the job without a single accident.

Compiled- by Florence 'Alex' Meron C.G.R.S,
Schoolcraft County Historian --1988

Source material-
Manistique Pioneer Tribunes- dated.
City Council Published Minutes
Insurance Maps- Blueprints 1914
National Builders Magazine- August 1923
Jack Orr, Memories, 1981
Escanaba Press -article by Rod French
(interview 1979 of Norman Johnson & Alex Meron for UP-Beat
Personal call to relatives of Friedolf Danielson, and
persons who took part in the construction, under a social
work program.)
column layout gif Grant request paperwork was submitted to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, April 30, 2001, by U.P. Engineers and Architects, Inc., of Marquette. The request seeks matching funds for a $344,000 renovation project as detailed by the engineering firm's inspection and preliminary costs estimate, dated March 28, 2001, as commissioned by the Manistique's Downtown Development Authority (DDA). The renovated building will provide space for arts related public events and public rest room facilities while preserving one of Manistique's unique and historic buildings.

Renovation Related Photos and Diagrams

Floor Plan Diagram 1 Floor plan 1

Floor Plan Diagram 2 Floor Plan 2

Flooded basement basement 1

Main Floor Main Floor

Main Floor Domed Ceiling Main Floor Domed Ceiling

Metal Frame Ceiling Structure Steel Frame Ceiling Structure

Underside of Internal Membrane Roof and Condensate Drain Internal Roof and Condensate Drain

Original Domed Roof Top Dome Roof Top

Entrance Entrance to tower

A Main Floor Window a main window

oldtwr1.JPG HOME
 © 2001-2003
column layout gif
Non-scale tower cross section tower cross section