The Moonlight Towers
In 1894 Austin purchased 31 iron light towers from the city of Detroit. Often referred to as the Moonlight Towers, these 165ft tall structures have been helping to light up the city for over 100 years and many people who live here don’t know anything about them, even though they are probably very familiar with at least one of these giant spires – the Zilker Park Christmas tree.
The Zilker “tree” is one of 17 towers left of the original 31. They have been in almost continuous use for over a century. Only briefly being shut off during a city dispute in 1905 and during the nation’s energy crisis of the 1970’s.
Since then, they have received historical status, and full, individual restoration in 1995.
Some odd facts about the towers include protests from farmers and ranchers of late 19th century Austin because they believed the extra evening light would wreak havoc on their crops and livestock. Also, Ripley’s Believe it or Not did a story about an 11 year old boy, Jimmy Fowler, who climbed and fell from one of the 16 story structures and survived by bouncing through a tree on the way down. That’ll teach him!
Sounds like a great way to spend a day – a map, some gps coordinates and a sharp eye to see if you can spot all 17 remaining monuments to Austin’s weird history.