What are the moonlight towers?
They are the 165-foot-tall towers that support outdoor lighting for parts of Austin. Thirty-one of these metal giants were erected in 1895 using electricity from Austin's first power plant on the Colorado River. The towers first used carbon arc lamps that were lit nightly by a worker who got to the top in an elevator that runs up the center of the framework. These were replaced in the 1920s by incandescent lamps and then by mercury vapor lamps in 1936. There are 17 towers in use today. A replica of a moonlight tower serves as the center post for the Zilker Park "Christmas Tree" of lights each year. There have been many myths about these towers, but:
- they were never placed in the shape of a star
- they did not cause farmers' crops to grow 24 hours a day
- they did not confuse chickens and cause them to lay eggs 24 hours a day
Photo: C02049, Chalberg Collection of Prints and Negatives
View a map of Moonlight Tower Locations.
What Native American tribe was most common in the area?
Return to the Austin History Quiz.