The Water Tower
Steam locomotives required large quantities of good-quality water to generate steam to power their trains. At the turn of the century, most railroads used water towers trackside to slake the Iron Horse's thirst. Water could be supplied from municipal sources, a spring, a well, a nearby stream or river; it really depended on the location and what was needed. Sometimes, the water quality was poor so a water treatment facility was placed next to the tower. Water towers were spaced along the track to meet demand for water, and more often where convenient, such as at a crossing of a stream, or in a town/city where a train would stop to pick of freight and passengers.