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Finding Minnesota: Lindstrom's Famous Water Tower

LINDSTROM, Minn. (WCCO) -- Minnesota is full of small towns and cities, each with its own unique features.

Some have distinctive buildings or relaxing lakes that put them on the map. Others have more unusual landmarks. Take Lindstrom, for example -- a city of about 4,000 people, right off Highway 8 in Chisago County.

This week in Finding Minnesota, Angela Davis reveals the story behind the city's eye-catching water tower.

It looks like many of the small cities in Minnesota that you may drive through to get to some other destination. But you can't drive through Lindstrom without noticing the big coffee pot hovering above the downtown area.

"It is a friendly, welcoming landmark for people visiting the town," said Keith Carlson, mayor of Lindstrom. "It's the one thing they see, there are other things we'd like for them to see, but this is the most noticeable for sure."

Noticeable indeed.

The mayor said tourists from around the world have made their way here just to see this.

It says "Valkommen till Lindstrom" across the front, which means "Welcome to Lindstrom" in Swedish.

That phrase is written in the Swedish language because nearly half the people who live in Lindstrom are of Swedish descent.

This is one of the first places in Minnesota that Swedish immigrants settled.

By the early 1990s, the town had grown so much that it was time to replace the water tower.

"It just wasn't big enough to supply the storage needs for the city because of the growth. We just needed a bigger water tower," Carlson said.

In most places, that would be the end of the story.

But not in Marlene Messin's hometown.

She's the CEO of Plastic Products in Lindstrom and back when the city was planning to tear down the old water tower, she was thinking of ways to save it and use it in a different way.

"I thought, they'll be tearing that down and I didn't want to see that happen. I knew of one in Iowa that was decorated and I thought that would make a nice Swedish coffee pot. The city let me do that. It didn't cost the taxpayers any money. I paid for all of it," Messin said.

She sure did. Thousands of dollars to add a handle, a spout and to paint it. Messin said the the significance of the coffee pot is that Scandanavians are big coffee drinkers.

The water tower is not the only landmark in Lindstrom that gets a lot of attention. Just on the edge of town there is a statue that also honors the city's Swedish heritage.

It's a replica of a statue that stands in Sweden.

It shows a couple making their way to America, eager to start a new life, while holding on to their traditions.

Some people have mistaken the giant coffee pot design of the water tower for a tea kettle, because it's short and squat.

And the reason that Swedish tour groups come to Lindstrom to see the tower, is that the city is written about in a series of fictional books by a Swedish author.

If you want to learn more about the city of Lindstrom and its coffee pot water tower, just check out the city's website.

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