Mendocino is famous for its water towers. The towers were built at the end of the 19th century and they provided the town with water. Unlike Fort Bragg Mendocino has no central water supply to this day so many of the original towers are still in use. Before electricity the water was pumped up to the towers by windmills.
Most of Mendocino’s 40-60 inches of rain falls between November and March. The water table is very close to the surface and so water has to be stored for the dry months. To provide water gravity pressure and to provide a place for the windmills to catch the wind the towers were built thirty feet tall and some were even sixty feet from the ground.
Many of Mendocino’s water towers have been converted into living quarters. The small somewhat inconspicuous towers, the yellow one on the south side of Ukiah street is one of the oldest. It was built in 1879.
This old postcard (right) shows the Mendocino water towers and the windmills that were the motive power for keeping them filled.
The following publication (available in the Gallery Bookshop) is our recommended source of information on Mendocino’s water towers:
"Water Towers and Windmills of Mendocino" by Wally Smith – published by the Mendocino Historical Research Society.