The Paper Trail Front Page Tales from the Little Town That Almost Was: Water Tower Has Place in Flour Bluff History

Tales from the Little Town That Almost Was: Water Tower Has Place in Flour Bluff History


The 1971 Flour Bluff Water Tower, circa 2019 (Photo by Katy Beseda)

     On August 16, 2022, at a regularly scheduled City Council meeting, Mayor Paulette Guajardo and Council awarded a contract to Landmark Structures I, LP, to construct a new elevated storage tank known as a water tower in Flour Bluff. The $13.3 million contract is funded through the fiscal year 2022 water capital fund.

     The current water tower in Flour Bluff was completed in 1971 and holds one million gallons of water. The new water tower will hold three million gallons of water. It will be outfitted with a pressure-reducing valve to ensure water from the tower enters the water distribution system at a consistent pressure.

     Construction has begun and is expected to be completed in early 2024. Once the new water tower is completed, the old tower will be demolished. Progress is sometimes painful for all who have come to see the current water tower as a landmark, one many Flour Bluff residents want to see graced with a Hornet, the Flour Bluff School’s mascot or at least the words, “Flour Bluff” to let people know that they are in a specific geographical area bound by the Cayo del Oso, King Ranch, the Laguna Madre, and Corpus Christi Bay.

Texas Land and Cattle Co., Ltd. Map, July 1894


     In the City of Corpus Christi’s water issues in 2016 and 2017 when citizens experienced multiple water boil orders, it turns out that the people who live and work in Flour Bluff fared better than most because of its location. Situated on the Encinal Peninsula between the Cayo del Oso and the Laguna Madre, the community was far enough away from the point of contamination that it really didn’t affect them, even though they were instructed to stop using the water until further notice.

   In the early days, this distant location was considered by some to be a hindrance to getting enough water to serve the residents.  Up until 1951, when a water line was run from Corpus Christi to Flour Bluff, the main source of water came from wells.  The new water line was the result of the work of several concerned Flour Bluff citizens whose wells nearly ran dry in the summer of 1950. This prompted the creation of the Flour Bluff Water District.

      According to a 1960 Corpus Christi Caller-Times article, “The Flour Bluff Lions Club spearheaded petitioning of the State Board of Water Engineers for creation of a water district which would buy water from the City of Corpus Christi and pipe it to customers at Flour Bluff and on the island. This move, although heavily favored, had its dissenters, and there was campaigning to be done – before the board of water engineers and in two elections at Flour Bluff.  One was for ratification of the district’s creation, the other on a $700,000 bond issue to put the district in business.  The bond issue passed 153 to 19.”

     By July 1951, the water line tied Flour Bluff citizens to the city’s water supply.  By June of 1953, a water tank had to be installed to increase the water supply for use by residents.  The Caller-Times reported that on the morning of June 16, 1953, that only five pounds of pressure was coming out of the city line.

     “The Naval Air Station, with an underground reservoir situated between Flour Bluff and Corpus Christi, naturally cuts down the pressure,” said M.C. Jarrell, then head of the Water Control District.  He assured everyone he was not complaining about the use of water by the Navy but that he was concerned about fire danger in the area with such low water pressure.  In his words, the Flour Bluff residents were “sitting ducks.”

This water tower sat on the Laguna Madre side of Lakeside Drive, north of Davis Drive which is now South Padre Island Drive. (Photo courtesy of Monette Bright)


The Lakeside water tower sits in the background of this picture taken at the Flour Bluff Fire Department Station House that sat on Laguna Shores near Davis Drive, now South Padre Island Drive (Photo courtesy of Nueces County ESD#2)

     Many people in the Humble Camp reported that they had been using well water again. To resolve the Flour Bluff water issues, Jarrell told the Caller-Times that a second water tank at Flour Bluff would be installed, with a booster pump added for use in emergencies.  This tower sat on the north side of Davis Drive (now Padre Island Drive) between Lakeside Drive and the Laguna Madre.  It saw its demise when the causeway bond was paid off and the county turned the roadway over to the state.  A new, multi-lane wide highway went in, and the tank was in the way.

     In 1971, the current Flour Bluff water tank was built at a cost of $235,600. Now, this water tower may also be seeing the end to its usefulness.  It has been in poor condition for some time and has added to the water woes of Flour Bluff. When it is removed, it will be a sad day for the Flour Bluff folks. It has been a thing to conquer for the youth in the area as they challenged each other to climb to its top and serves as the home to a pair of great-horned owls who hunt from its rails.  Mostly, it serves as an icon of a fiercely independent little community with a great history all its own. It has stood watch over Flour Bluff, greeting all who enter, saying, “Welcome home!” to the Bluff-ian returning from somewhere beyond the Cayo del Oso, and assuring all that life is better in the Bluff.

Photo and caption courtesy of Corpus Christi Caller-Times, circa 1971