One of the first things you’ll notice as you wander the village of Mendocino is an inordinate amount of tower like structures. Visitors are generally curious about what they are, what they do and why there are so many.
These wonderful structures are remnants of an earlier era when water had to be stored in tanks at elevation sufficient to gravity feed water to homes and businesses. A 30 foot tower could supply water at about 15 pounds per square inch, adequate for normal domestic use. Windmills were the source of power to pump the water from the well and up to the tank. As you might imagine the windmills were very effective in this windy coastal location. Later, with the advent of electricity, electric pumps pressurized the water, making both the windmill and the towers obsolete.
Sadly, most windmills did not withstand the test of time but we can still enjoy many of the unique water towers as they are protected by zoning and historic district restrictions.
It’s worth noting that Mendocino still has no public water system so all homes and businesses depend on private wells and common aquafers. As a community we are very mindful of this precious resource and always strive to use it wisely.