Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Gleichen Water Tower is an early twentieth-century structure situated on eight lots in the Town of Gleichen. The structure features a wood shingle-clad tank supported by riveted steel supports.
The heritage value of the Gleichen Water Tower lies in its status as one of the few remaining examples of a municipal water tower, a once common landmark in Alberta communities.
Like many other early southern Alberta communities, Gleichen came into being as a result of the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway's (CPR's) transcontinental line through the region in the early 1880s. Situated in the midst of several major CPR irrigation projects and north of the Blackfoot reserve, the community developed into a staging point for rail travel and a service centre for both settlers and Natives. Unlike many early settlements in the area, however, Gleichen was not located near a reliable source of water, nor was it slated for inclusion in an irrigation project. When the Town of Gleichen was incorporated in 1910 with a population of over 500, one of municipal council's first initiatives was to address the urgent need for a more sophisticated water and sewer system to serve its growing citizenry. The town contracted the Des Moines Bridge and Iron Company of Pittsburgh to construct a water tower in the community. Completed in 1911, the water tower served not only the people of Gleichen, but also the inhabitants of the Blackfoot reserve to the south. The Gleichen Water Tower remained in use until the 1970s. It remains a visually striking landmark and a reminder of the once essential role water towers played in the municipal infrastructure of many Alberta communities.
Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2183)
The character-defining elements of the Gleichen Water Tower include:
- those features of the site necessary to maintain adequate water volume and pressure, including the height of the tower, the central shaft, the capacity of the tank, and the location of the tower at a relatively high elevation;
- those features of the structure required to ensure the strength and durability of an essential component of municipal infrastructure, including the riveted steel construction of the supporting tower, the tie rods and turnbuckles, and the wood shingle cladding of the tank;
- the name plate of the Des Moines Bridge and Iron Company of Pittsburgh, an indication of the role of American companies played in building some municipal water towers in Alberta.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Technology and Engineering
Function - Category and Type
- Water or Sewage Facility
Architect / Designer
Des Moines Bridge and Iron Company of Pittsburgh
Location of Supporting Documentation
Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 2183)
Cross-Reference to Collection