Friday, January 01, 2010

Water Tower WTF

I was recently having my car cleansed of a inch-think layer of road salt at the Mongtomery Hills Car Wash when I glanced up at the monstrosity of a water tank looming over me and noticed that "THE GREAT PUMPKIN" had been written across it in large letters. The faded graffiti, painted in impressively level block letters, is visible only under close inspection and was presumably added quite some time ago. There is presently no obvious way for a person to access that section of the tank, so I have no idea how someone was able to add this text in the first place.

Do the words "The Great Pumpkin" imply that the silhouette of the water tower looms over the Montgomery Hills neighborhood in a manner similar to The Great Pumpkin over a Charles Schultz pumpkin patch? Or is the tank supposed to resemble a big pumpkin? The explanation of this phrase is not as obvious as the legendary "Surrender Dorothy" railroad bridge graffiti just up 495. (Sadly, now just "Surrender".)

Anyone know the story behind this?


- Mayorgaistas, rejoice! The coffee house, whose last day in Silver Spring was Thursday, plans to re-open in Takoma Park Takoma, DC in the building that once housed the now-defunct Savory Cafe a space near the Metro station. I should note that like Mayorga, Savory also served crap bagels. Best of luck to them, but if they don't upgrade what many claim to be substandard customer service I don't know if a change of scenery will necessarily help.

- The Washington Examiner has a profile of the SSINO neighborhood of Rock Creek Woods, which is at least technically in Silver Spring. Very interesting houses back there. I suggest taking a drive through the neighborhood sometime to check it out, provided you can find it. (It's not that easy.)

- A Silver Spring man was among the passengers who subdued the "Underwear Bomber" on Northwest flight 253.

- Today's Post has an article on the "Pinball Museum" in Silver Spring yet fails to mention the perfect location for its new home.


Bowie Mike said...

I like a good mystery, and I tried a few Google searches without any luck. I did find this interesting water tower.

C. P. Zilliacus said...

> Do the words "The Great Pumpkin"
> imply that the silhouette of
> the water tower looms over
> the Montgomery Hills neighborhood
> in a manner similar to The
> Great Pumpkin over a
> Charles Schultz pumpkin patch?
> Or is the tank supposed
> to resemble a big pumpkin?

Wow, this brings back memories.

At some point in the distant past (1970's?), there was a much smaller water storage tank on this site, which the WSSC dismantled to replace with the structure there today.

The WSSC proceeded to build this "new" tank, and the (unpainted) steel as delivered was an orange color, and as the tank started to assume its shape (I believe the steel was hoisted into place and the joints welded), it did indeed look like a large pumpkin, looming over Montgomery Hills, and during the fall of that year, it was labeled by parties unknown as The Great Pumpkin.

Eventually the entire tank was painted in that baby blue color, and the graffiti was covered over and forgotten by most. I suppose that the paint has aged to the point that those letters are now showing through again.

Sligo said...

Wow, I had no idea if I'd get an answer, let alone so quickly. Thanks!

Mimi said...

Mayorga isn't going in where Savory used to be, on Carroll Ave. It's going in closer to the Takoma Metro station (in a location which may have been a Savory outpost at some point). The address is in the press release at (and this is what the guy behind the counter told me a couple days ago, too).

Sligo said...

Thanks for the clarification. I kept hearing that it was in Takoma Park, though the press release confirms the DC location.

wombat said...

If it's that little space that was already a cafe, yeah, that started out as a branch of Savory. It's really tiny - not a lot of seats for the laptoppers to hang out.

Thomas Hardman said...

CP, thanks for the clarification! And thanks, Sligo, for noticing.

CP, do you know anything about a so-called "flying saucer" or "starship one" abandoned water tank? There was a lot of talk going around in the late 1970s and early 1980s of a party place that was evidently a hilltop low-tower or ground-mounted water tank, supposedly people had to crawl through a long pipe, and urban legend was that if you stayed in there for more than 5 minutes you'd use up all of the air and once a year the WSSC (so the story goes) would send around a crew wearing scuba tanks to remove the bones of people who didn't heed the warnings. ;)

Anyone want to start a blog collecting MoCo Weirdness? Things like "Surrender Dorothy", the "Great Pumpkin" and the 'Cloverleaf to Nowhere" would all qualify.

Anonymous said...

While realizing the necessity of a water tank, I'm wondering whether modern technology would allow us to replace that huge monstrosity with something much smaller and much more attractive. I really think that if Montgomery Hills is going to continue to improve its image then the Water tank has to be addressed.

Anonymous said...

Ok SS Singular, with the news that the Penguin is closing down at the end of the week, you will become the #1 source of news and info for the SS scene. We're counting on you to pick up the slack and hit the streets of our fair town.

Sligo said...

You are implying that I wasn't already.

Terry in Silver Spring said...

There is a rezoning sign up (well, it fell down in the wind)in front of Kinkos/FedEx on East West Hwy. Any idea of what they're looking to do?

Sligo said...

A few years back, I recall hearing that they were going to build a 20-story office building in the spot presently occupied by Kinko's, Rite Aid, etc. Perhaps that is finally coming to pass. Things move slowly in MoCo.

Anonymous said...

You're snooty. True washington style.

Sligo said...


Steve said...

Sligo, you've always been a good source of Silver Spring info, and have often gotten the scoop on shit way before the other local blogs, but the Penguin tended to post more often and be just a little bit more current on some of the openings/closings type of stories. However, we're sure that you'll be able to fill the void left by the Penguin.

Sligo said...

I'll do what I can, but sometimes it's hard when The Man makes me "go to work" and what not.

Terry in Silver Spring said...

Go to work?

I thought bloggers were supposed to sit in their jammies at the keyboard all day.

Sligo said...

Yes, eating Doritos and washing them down with Mountain Dew.

WashingtonGardener said...

Anon - Mont Hills will also need those frigging power lines/polls removed/buried, if it ever hopes for a facelift - right now going down Ga Ave to the beltwat it just looks like a forest of dead trees strung together

Steve said...

WashingtonGardener - they have actually consolidated some of the overhead lines over the past 2 or 3 years so its not quite as much eye pollution as it was a while back. The removal of the billboards back in '05/'06 also helped out a lot, so I feel like they are headed in the right direction. However much work still has to be done to make that 1/2 mile strip of retail blight somewhat attractive.

jetcat said...

Oh, man - I really miss the "Surrender Dorothy." It was a sad day when they covered it up. Maybe some enterprising gymnasts can attempt it again? I'm just sayin' said...

Please let me know if anyone has any other photos of this water tower.

I'm putting together a blog post of missed opportunities that local city planners & community leaders should review.

...honestly, this thing should have an awesome mural on it.

It would be fantastic and put that little business strip on the map.

Anonymous said...

Just reading this blog for the first time...

I remember when that water tower was dubbed "The Great Pumpkin!" It was indeed orange at the time. I must have been about 11 or 12, so it was 1968 or 1969. Thanks for that memory jog!

Internet marketing Specialists said...

Better late than never! I salute the designer who has written these meaningful words attracting so much attention and interesting. However, the water tank deserves don it.

marlene krauss said...

I appreciate your capability to observe so keenly and able to discover the great usefulness of the watertank to the people living around it. It truly resembles the great character of the mysterious pumpkin.

business for sale said...

I'm glad to see the coffee house reopen as I was longing to visit the same. Looking forward a new and vibrant house.

Sued Credit Card Debt said...

It reminds us of those bygone days where such great feats have been accomplished and the benefits of which we are still enjoying. Thanks for posting such a useful information.

portland mortgage refinance said...

It is great to learn about the great service the water tank renders to the residents living around it. It is really a big pumpkin.

used auto parts said...

Our predecessors have set in an example before us so that we could follow their footprints and do similar activities beneficial to generation next.

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