The Water Tower - 1946

The Water Tower today
This former Canadian Pacific Railway Water Tower was built for the railway divisional facilities in Cranbrook. It was actually built in 1946 to replace an earlier one that had been built in 1898 when the railway first came through Cranbrook.

It was relocated to this site in the summer of 1994, and is one of the last surviving water towers in western Canada. It is also one of the best preserved due in part to the dry weather experienced in Cranbrook.

The bottom of the wooden water tank is about 20 feet above, but the sides of the tank itself rise a further 20 feet. The tank is of wood stave construction, held together by large steel rods. A piece of one of these rods is displayed on the floor.


Huge vertical and diagonal bracing timbers that safely supported the tremendous weight of the 40,000 gallons of water formerly contained in the tank. A large black vertical pipe near the entrance connected underground to a remote "standpipe" for filling steam locomotive tenders parked on tracks some distance away. The size of the pipe allowed very quick filling of 8,000 to 12,000 gallons at a time. Some water tanks had a spout which was attached to the bottom and side of the tank, and filled tenders parked right beside the tower. A pump connected to the city water system kept the tank full at all times. The exterior octagonal walls, rising over 40 feet, were built to insulate the tank during cold weather; a small cupola on the top allowed ventilation in the summer.

Moving the Water Tower across the main line in 1994
The tower relocation and restoration project is the first stage in the development of the City Railway Museum Development Zone, which stretches almost a kilometre in length along and between the highway and the railway.

The tower's central location on the visual intersections of two important Cranbrook streets, and the highway, gives it a very high profile. When the new indoor facilities for the museum are built south past the CPR Station in the future, this tower will visually connect those new facilities to the downtown area of Cranbrook. Along with the Elko Station, the expanded railway gardens, and some outdoor displays, the tower displays will offer a good look at our railway heritage.

The interior of this tower has been set up with exhibits to portray local and regional railway history, and will be further developed as funds permit. This can more effectively be done here rather than at the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel which deals instead with the lifestyle of railway travel in Canada and North America.

To the Freight Shed