October 31, 1948 – The old water tank at the Ford House crashed to the ground with a roar that could be heard for many blocks. The tank and tower had recently been inspected for safety, and the cause of the collapse was unknown.

House sitting on a large property with a water tower and a fenced-in area beside it

Photograph of the west and south sides Ford House and its water tower in Mendocino, California, looking northeast, 1929-1938. A fenced tennis court is in the foreground. The west facade of the Occidental Hotel is visible on the right side of the photo. The tower beyond the Ford House’s water tower belongs to the Lansing House, and beyond that is the McCornack House tower. Large cypress trees and the old Kelley Store can be seen across Main Street. Photo date range of 1929-1938 is proposed because the 1929 Sanborn Map shows the Lansing House water tower as an unenclosed structure and this photo shows it enclosed. The Occidental Hotel water tower, which is partially obscured by trees on the far right side, is still present in this photo. That structure collapsed in 1938. (Kelley House Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

Albert Eddy, local handyman, was an eyewitness to the fall of the tower, “At 12:30 pm Sunday, October 31st, I was in the pond yard, looking toward the tank tower and building when it suddenly collapsed; evidently because of overloading. There was no warning, tower and building standing as usual, then came a loud crashing of breaking timbers, and as if by design, tank and tower were flung violently toward the residence. A part of the roof appeared to be thrown upward. It could not have been caused by a wind blowing at the time, because there was almost a complete calm. The whole affair took almost one minute.”

The fall of the water tower severed electricity lines and caused all of the lumber company’s buildings to be deprived of water. Debris and water were thrown over a wide area, and a nearby garage was damaged.

Last Day! Don’t miss the Jewelry For Doors Exhibit – Vintage Doorknobs From The Larry Sawyer & Harriet Bye Collection. Thursday through Sunday, 11 am to 3 pm.