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If you've ever driven to Fargo, you've seen it. Not far past St John, but before the Sauk Center exit, there's Freeport, Minnesota and the smilingest water tower outside of St Charles. And earlier this year, they were thinking it was time to tear it down.

A March story from MPR fixed repair and restore costs at about $75,000, a lot of money for a water tower that isn't really a water tower. A newer water tower was buuilt a while back, but they kept the smiling tower because...well, like the Ear of Corn Water Tower, here in Rochester, the town likes it.

A bunch of citizens got together and said, "Let's make a go-fund-me for the tower, that way our taxes won't pay for it, and we can get it done faster than the usual time it takes to go thru official governemnt spending chanels.


Turns out they only needed about $30,000 for the job, they raised $33,000, so the painting is underway.. So next time you're driving I-94 and you see the smiling face, take the exit, turn right and kinda keep your eye out and you'll find your way to the 100-year-old tower.

The original Freeport water tower was made of wood, but burned down in 1920 (no water available?). The new current old water tower was built after the town raised $12,000 for the job that same year.

When did the smiley face appear? Officially, in the 1970's. The  water tower was being painted and why not add a smiley face then, right? The unofficial, and much more fun, story is that right after it was built, a sassy person climbed up there in the dark of night and the next morning the town awoke to the smiley face.

No matter how it happened, it's part of the town, even on the city letterhead and the city seal, and its here to say.

PS - Freeport, Minnesota, unlike a lot of small Minnesota towns, has pretty much grown or stayed the same in every census, and is estimated to be about 669 today. That's impressive. Lesson? Don't knock small towns or the power of a smiley faced water tower.

Listen to James Rabe and Jessica Williams 6a to 10a on Y-105 FM's Early Morning Show.

Speaking of small towns...

LOOK: Here are the best small towns to live in across America

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