- Shot Tower (Dubuque)
George W. Rogers Company Shot Tower
Location: Commercial St. and River Front, Dubuque, Iowa Coordinates: Coordinates: Area: less than one acre Built: 1856 Architect: Rogers,C.H., & Co. Architectural style: Mid 19th C. Exotic Revival Governing body: Local NRHP Reference#: 76000767 Added to NRHP: November 07, 1976
The Shot Tower located in Dubuque, Iowa is one of the last remaining shot towers in the United States. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and remains a recognized symbol of the city. At its location near the Mississippi River, the Tower can be seen from the riverwalk and is currently undergoing extensive renovations. It stands 120'5" tall.
The tower was built in 1856 to provide lead shot for the military. The invention of the shot tower enabled economical production of many nearly perfect lead spheres of the right size to fit in a musket. To make the shot, molten lead was poured through a grate at the top of the tower. The droplets that fell from the grate were of relatively uniform size, and the fall provided enough time for the liquid-metal droplet to form into a sphere before landing in the water below. The water cooled the lead to its solid state, retaining the spherical shape.
Advances in the manufacture of ammunition led to the tower's eventual sale and repurposing as a watch tower for the nearby lumberyard. However, the tower was abandoned after a series of fires in 1911 destroyed the local lumber industry and damaged the tower’s wooden interior. In 1976, the tower was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Tuckpointing and repairs soon followed, and in 2004, the Shot Tower became part of ongoing riverfront renovations.
- Listing, drawing, and photographs, Survey number HABS IA-30-8 at the Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)
- History of early drop towers
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