Hughes Water Tower

The Hughes Water Tower is located on Church Street in Hughes (St. Francis County). The metal water tower was built by the Chicago Bridge and Iron Works for the Public Works Administration (PWA) in 1936. It is a good example of a 1930s water tower and the only surviving example of a PWA-built water tower in the county.

Hughes was founded in 1913 as the Iron Mountain Railroad built its expensive “mud line” from West Memphis (Crittenden County) to Marianna (Lee County) through the swamps and scrub prairies of the Arkansas Delta. It was named for Robert Hughes, who donated land to the railroad. By the time the Great Depression struck, the small town of Hughes served the vast agricultural enterprises that farmed cotton in the region.

The town of Hughes took advantage of the offerings of the PWA and applied to have a $40,529 waterworks installed. On September 22, 1935, the PWA awarded a $22,000 loan and a $17,700 grant for the project. A contract for $36,661 was awarded on October 19, 1935, and the Chicago Bridge and Iron Works began construction on March 12, 1936. The water tower is a Horton-style tank, named for either Chicago Bridge and Iron Works founder Horace E. Horton or his son, chief engineer George T. Horton. Construction was complete by December 2, 1936.

The Hughes Water Tower continues to serve Hughes in the twenty-first century, a testament to the work of the PWA, a New Deal agency that put unemployed Americans to work during the Great Depression while bringing badly needed infrastructure to communities of all sizes throughout Arkansas. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 5, 2006.

For additional information:
Hope, Holly. “An Ambition to be Preferred: New Deal Recovery Efforts and Architecture in Arkansas, 1933–1943.” Little Rock, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 2006. Online at (accessed November 9, 2020).

“Hughes Water Tower.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at (accessed November 9, 2020).

Mark K. Christ
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program


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