TexasEscapes.com HOME Welcome to Texas Escapes
A magazine written by Texas
Custom Search
New   |   Texas Towns   |   Ghost Towns   |   Counties   |   Trips   |   Features   |   Columns   |   Architecture   |   Images   |   Archives   |   Site Map

Counties
Texas Counties

Texas Towns
A - Z
Austin Hotels

More Hotels

Architecture | Preservation

Austin's Moonlight Towers
Austin, Texas

by Johnny Stucco

Officially recognized as state archeological landmarks in 1970
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976

Book Hotel Here › Austin Hotels
Austin's Moonlight Towers
Moonlight Tower -
Looking up from ground level.

Photo by John Troesser, 10-04
Hiding in plain sight around the downtown area and a few neighborhoods, these 165-foot industrial artifacts could (collectively) be considered an outdoor museum.

They are (collectively) listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, in the entire United States, only Austin has surviving examples of this type of lighting system that was once popular in many U.S. cities during the late 1800s. Seventeen (of the original thirty-one) towers are scattered around "old" Austin - with the greatest concentration being around the Capitol. Surprisingly, only a few have been lost to automobile mishaps.

A complete list of locations can be found in T. Lindsay Baker's Building the Lone Star.
Austin's Moonlight Tower Lights
The actual Lights atop the tower.
Photo by John Troesser, 10-04
Moonlight Tower hardware closeup
Intricate hardware - the wheel was part of a hand-operated elevator that brought workmen to the top.
Photo by John Troesser, 10-04
The towers are actually 150 feet tall with a fifteen-foot foundation. They were shipped from the manufacturer in Indiana and assembled on site. When first installed, the towers were connected to their own electric generators at the Colorado River dam. The area lighted was a 1,500 foot radius and it was meant to provide enough light to read a watch by.

Over the years they were switched from their original carbon-arc lamps to incandescent lamps in the 20s to mercury-vapor lamps in the 1930s. When they were carbon-arc, the light was brighter, however, nightly inspections were required. Mercury-vapor lighting allowed the installation of a simple switch at the towers base. Wartime considerations required a central switch in case a blackout was necessary.
Autin's Moonlight Towers plaque
One of the recently attached plaques.
Photo by John Troesser, 10-04
Austin's Moonlight Tower  looking up
Austin's Moonlight Tower - looking up
Photo by John Troesser, 10-04
The Moonlight Towers were officially recognized as state archeological landmarks in 1970 and six years later they were listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1993 the city of Austin dismantled the towers and restored them down to every bolt, turnbuckle and guy wire. Our visit in 2004 showed the restoration to holding up well. The work appears as though it was completed last week.

The only recent addition to the towers, besides the historical plaques, has been the signage warning people not to climb them.
Austin's Moonlight Tower warning sign
The warning. Shortly after installation - there was a suicide.
Photo by John Troesser, 10-04
Austin's Moonlight Tower's hardward  close up
Austin's Moonlight Tower's hardware close up
Photo by John Troesser, 10-04
Austin's Moonlight Tower looking up
Moonlight Tower -
Looking up from ground level.

Photo by John Troesser, 10-04
John Troesser

Book Hotel Here › Austin Hotels

More
Austin, Texas
Texas Architecture
Texas

Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, landmarks and recent or vintage photos, please contact us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Texas Escapes Online Magazine »   Archive Issues » Home »
TEXAS TOWNS & COUNTIES TEXAS LANDMARKS & IMAGES TEXAS HISTORY & CULTURE TEXAS OUTDOORS MORE
Texas Counties
Texas Towns A-Z
Texas Ghost Towns

TEXAS REGIONS:
Central Texas North
Central Texas South
Texas Gulf Coast
Texas Panhandle
Texas Hill Country
East Texas
South Texas
West Texas

Courthouses
Jails
Churches
Schoolhouses
Bridges
Theaters
Depots
Rooms with a Past
Monuments
Statues

Gas Stations
Post Offices
Museums
Water Towers
Grain Elevators
Cotton Gins
Lodges
Stores
Banks

Vintage Photos
Historic Trees
Cemeteries
Old Neon
Ghost Signs
Signs
Murals
Gargoyles
Pitted Dates
Cornerstones
Then & Now

Columns: History/Opinion
Texas History
Small Town Sagas
Black History
WWII
Texas Centennial
Ghosts
People
Animals
Food
Music
Art

Books
Cotton
Texas Railroads

Texas Trips
Texas Drives
Texas State Parks
Texas Rivers
Texas Lakes
Texas Forts
Texas Trails
Texas Maps
USA
MEXICO
HOTELS

Site Map
About Us
Privacy Statement
Disclaimer
Contributors
Staff
Contact Us

 
Website Content Copyright Texas Escapes LLC. All Rights Reserved