A typical sight while driving through small towns in rural America is to see a unique, possibly old-fashioned, water tower. Each one proudly wears its town name on a distinctive colored tank, sitting high above the place that it calls home.

This tower, unless replaced in recent years, has literally stood with its proud community for years; through the good and bad that the town has faced.

This tower has stood proud even as its own school closed and joined another town nearby, while watching the stands fill up with fans for another night of summer baseball, while the fields surrounding its sweet little town have turned from green in the spring to a pretty harvest gold in the fall, year after year, and while listening to the local church bells ring time and time again.

This water tower is the staple of many communities, setting it apart from others, all while holding the same special place in the hearts of its own.

The town of Belview proudly admires its blue jay-blue tower that stands near the historic Odeon Hall, while Sacred Heart will never be forgotten for its happy-go-lucky tower showing a yellow smiley-face for all to see as they pass by it on Highway 212.

If you head northeast just 15 miles as the crow flies, you’ll come to a little town named Raymond, whose water tower joyfully watched the Raymond Rockets win game after game before taking home the town team state championship in 2016.

Wood Lake’s tower eagerly waits year-round for August to come, so it can look down on its streets below during the area-famous Wood Lake Fair, whereas Cottonwood stands out with two towers on the same side of town; one of which states “it isn’t far to Cottonwood” and the other proudly declares the year of establishment in 1888 on the aqua-colored tower.

Many may not think that small towns like these have much to offer, but that is far from the truth. Each town has been built and carried on by local families for generations and are more than just a dot on a map...it’s home. It’s memories. It’s the place where people learned the value of hard work and honesty. It’s where people spent countless hours with friends driving its streets in our teens. It’s where we spent every Sunday morning in the church pew, growing and learning in our faith.

These proud little farming towns are the framework of the nation that we are all blessed to call home.

Whether it’s where you’ll stay forever or a place you’ll just pass through, there is something that can’t be replaced about these water tower towns.

– Samantha Anderson, the daughter of Mike and Jean Anderson, grew up on a farm just outside of Belview and attended high school at Yellow Medicine East. She recently finished her freshman year at South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D. where she is pursuing a double major in agricultural business and agricultural communication. What follows is the explanation for this article in Anderson’s words: “Since I was about a freshman in high school, I have really had a love for photography, so I was very excited to take this basic photography class for my communication degree this spring semester. For our final project, our assignment was to create a photo story/gallery of at least five photos that were centered around the same theme. While I was brainstorming ideas with my parents, my dad came up with the idea of water towers, because Belview’s water tower is definitely much different than others seen in the area. From there we tried to think of little towns around us that may have older towers, and then I grabbed my camera and went on a drive with my mom to check them all out. We stopped in quite a few towns, some that I didn’t include in my project, because I felt that their towers were ‘too updated’ and tried to find the best angles to shoot from before coming back again on brighter days with some fluffy clouds so that I could get the ‘perfect photo.’ It was honestly such a fun project, but I felt like I could do more with it, which is why I decided to write a little story to go along with it to recognize these amazing, small communities that we all love.

- See Anderson's water tower pictures in the photo galleries on this Web site