Looming four stories above the landscape at the Coachella Valley History Museum in Indio is a big structure with a colorful past that illustrates the importance of water to the area.
Made of galvanized steel, the M.H. Whittier Water Tower was originally constructed more than a century ago in 1921 above a well that pumped water to an 8,000-gallon tank, providing pressure for the M.H. Whitter Ranch Company, a thriving date farm complex located on the corner of Jackson Street and Avenue 48.
The 500-acre ranch featured a vast array of buildings, including nine houses, a warehouse, barn, stable, and packing house. It also served as a part-time home to oil tycoon and Beverly Hills co-founder Max Whittier.
By 2015, the 60-foot-tall tower was in such severe disrepair that many locals, appreciative of the landmark’s history, raised funds to restore it and relocate it to the Coachella Valley History Museum. Today, the water tower has become a beacon for the Coachella Valley and is used as a canvas for digital art projections.
A Link to the Past
Besides the water tower, other restored relics at the Coachella Valley History Museum include a 1909 schoolhouse and an adobe house built in 1926. The venue is also home to the California Date History Museum and a vast collection of Mexican folk art. cvhm.org