Brainerd grapples with how to save its iconic water tower

Stucco is missing from the rim of Brainerd's historic water tower.
A section of stucco is missing from the rim of Brainerd's historic water tower on July 13, 2018. Pieces were found on the ground near the structure.
Kelly Humphrey | Brainerd Dispatch

Brainerd's iconic water tower is crumbling. Earlier this month a chunk of concrete fell off the 141-foot structure, known as "Paul Bunyan's flashlight." No one was hurt, but now, city officials are scrambling to figure out what to do next.

The tower hasn't been used for decades, and tearing it down would be much cheaper than restoring it. But it's a symbol of the city and many residents want to save it, no matter the cost.

"It's been there for the entire lives of pretty much every resident of Brainerd," City Council President Dave Pritschet said. "It is beautiful. Some people make think it looks a little strange but when you're there and you look at it, it's a very majestic structure."

Pritschet spoke with MPR News' Cathy Wurzer.

Click the audio player above to hear their conversation.