Writing in the shadow of a century-old tower

In the shadow of history.

In the shadow of history.

A history paragraph While walking by the water towers behind the CN&R office the other day, Arts DEVO noticed a rusty plaque on one of the tower’s beams with the date “1913,” and said to himself (and anyone else who would listen to him that day), “Hey, the water towers are 100 years old!” It turns out, only one of them is 100; the smaller of the two is actually 108. Here’s the lowdown as recorded in the Chico Heritage Association’s Historic Resources Inventory available on the city of Chico website (go to and follow the “planning” link and then click on “planning and public review documents”).

In 1886, The Chico Water Company announced the drilling of a well on property purchased from Henry Klingst at the corner of 3rd and Orient Streets. Within two years, a second well was needed due to the increasing population. In 1905, the eastern water tower, which holds 125,000 gallons, was put up and in 1913, the larger western tower, which has a 152,000-gallon capacity, was built. Both have plaques which give the dates and “Chicago Bridge & Iron Works. Chicago, Ill. Builders.” The eastern beams have inscribed on them, “Carnegie” and the western, “Jones & Laughlin.” A stem plant adjacent to the 80-ft. towers to the north provided power until it was discontinued in the 1930s and dismantled in 1957. A home for the round-the-clock plant operators had been provided across the street at 229 Orient. California Water Service Co. acquired the Chico Water Co. and these towers in 1926. There are two other newer water towers (c. 1940s) in town, but these two, which are still used for supplemental water, are part of central Chico history.

“Take the High Road,” by Robin Indar

DEVOtions: Better-late-than-never addition

Sometimes, when new news arrives on my desk (or when I just write too long), important local arts information gets cut from the column. If I’m lucky, the following week will allow me to paste it back in, and this week I am lucky. Three things I missed:

• The maestro is leaving: Kyle Wiley Pickett, the North State Symphony’s music director and conductor for the past 12 years, will be leaving his post after the 2013-14 season. Pickett had recently accepted the music-director and conductor positions for both the Topeka, Kan., and Springfield., Mo., symphonies, and has since decided to not split his time between the West Coast and the Midwest. Pickett and his family will soon be moving to Springfield, but the conductor will play out the upcoming season with his North State orchestra.

• Bravo, Robin!: As has been reported here earlier this year, Chico tile-master Robin Indar recently completed an awesome three-story-high tile mosaic of a gecko on a Sacramento apartment building. Well, a couple of weeks ago, developers officially unveiled the impressive piece of public art, and the occasion landed Indar on the cover of The Sacramento Bee. Outstanding!

• Speaking of Indars: This one just fell through the cracks somehow. Former CN&R news editor/writer (and Robin’s husband) Josh Indar and the young writers from the 6th Street Center for Youth (aka the 6th Street Drop-in Center) just celebrated the release of their Writing for Donuts book at The Bookstore in Chico last week. The event was a big success, and the print version of the book of stories written by Butte County homeless youth (and organized by Indar) has already sold out. But you can still buy the e-book version (and help support 6th Street) at for only $5.