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The Cotton Plant Water Tower, located at the corner of North Main and North Vine streets in Cotton Plant (Woodruff County), was constructed in 1935 and installed with assistance from the Public Works Administration (PWA), a New Deal public relief agency. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 4, 2008.
As the United States struggled with the effects of the Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration enacted the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) to ease the effects of businesses closing. The act included an organization called the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (or Public Works Administration), which was created on June 16, 1933, to help finance federal construction projects and create jobs.
With cotton prices dropping, the community of Cotton Plant decided to seek PWA funding for construction of a waterworks, which could also provide badly needed jobs in the city of 1,689 people. The PWA awarded a $14,382 grant and $46,000 loan on February 14, 1934, for the project, which was expected to cost $61,123.
A $52,929 contract was awarded on December 4, 1934, and the project would ultimately cost around $60,000 and involve at least three contractors. The Arkansas Gazette reported on January 25, 1935, that a work order was issued for a well “to be drilled as part of a proposed $60,000 waterworks project at Cotton Plant….Ben M. Hogan of Little Rock is contractor for the well, which will cost $2,472.50.” On April 26, the newspaper reported that “work on a waterworks distribution system at Cotton Plant is scheduled to begin soon….L. O. Brayton Company of Dyersburg, Tenn., is the contractor, the tank and tower contract having been awarded separately.”
The Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Company erected the Cotton Plant Water Tower, the cost of which may account for the difference between the final $60,000 cost of the project and the December 1934 contract. The Gazette reported on July 14, 1935, that “the water works in Cotton Plant…is virtually completed and engineers are waiting for the testing of the pipes.” The project was officially closed on December 2, 1935. The Cotton Plant Water Tower still looms over the Woodruff County town today, serving it and the surrounding area.
For additional information:
“Bid on Annex to School Accepted.” Arkansas Gazette, April 26, 1935, p. 16.
Hope, Holly. “An Ambition to be Preferred: New Deal Recovery Efforts and Architecture in Arkansas, 1933–1943.” Little Rock, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 2006. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/News-and-Events/publications (accessed January 31, 2019).
“State News in Brief.” Arkansas Gazette, July 14, 1935, p. 13.
“Well at Cotton Plant.” Arkansas Gazette, January 25, 1935, p. 14.
Zbinden, Van. “Cotton Plant Water Tower.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/WO0032.nr.pdf (accessed January 31, 2019).
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
Last Updated 1/31/2019
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