Dubuque in Dubuque County, Iowa — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
The Shot Tower was constructed in 1856 to manufacture lead shot ammunition. Molten lead was poured from the top of the tower and passed through a series of sieves to form the shot into its proper size. The shot then landed in a tank of cold water at the bottom of the tower.
In the 1850s, lead from Dubuque was shipped to St. Louis shotmakers who produced most of the lead shot in the Midwest. George W. Rogers and Company built and operated the Dubuque Shot Tower in an attempt to break the St. Louis monopoly. The St. Louis company then cut its prices below production costs, destroying the Dubuque Shot Tower’s business after only 3 years.
Local banker J.K. Graves purchased all local shares at a low price in 1861. With the Civil War underway, Graves threatened to resume shot production at the Shot Tower, but the St. Louis company purchased the tower and abandoned it. Graves continued to produce shot for the Union Army by dropping the lead down a deep mine shaft.
The Shot Tower stood deserted from 1911 to 1959 when the Dubuque County Historical Society initially restored the stone and brick structure. It is one of only a few remaining historic shot towers in the United States and the only one west of the Mississippi River.
Location. 42° 29.967′ Touch for map. Located along the Mississippi Riverwalk. Marker is in this post office area: Dubuque IA 52001, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dubuque Shot Tower (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Old Dubuque County Jail (approx. 0.6 miles away); John Francis Rague (approx. 0.6 miles away); Five Flags Theater (approx. 0.6 miles away); East Dubuque Veterans' Memorial (approx. ¾ mile away in Illinois); Eleazor and Diadamia Frentress (approx. ¾ mile away in Illinois); Methodist Chapel (approx. ¾ mile away); "Fourth Street Elevator" (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Dubuque.
More about this marker. On the right are photos drawings and illustrations of the shot tower with the following captions:
"These drawings and picture are from the Federal Historic Architectural Buildings Survey completed on the shot tower during the 1930s."
"This circa 1868 illustration shows the ancillary building that was used to heat the lead to make shot. This process burned off the ? in the lead. The building was believed to be positioned on the west side of the tower. East Dubuque buildings are seen in the
"The Standard Lumber Company used the Shot Tower as a fire watchtower from the early 1880s until the company was destroyed in the 1911 lumberyard fire. Note the watchman’s lookout on top of the Shot Tower circa 1909."
Also see . . . Shot Tower. Encyclopedia Dubuque (Submitted on June 21, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Man-Made Features • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 21, 2011, by Bob (peach) Weber of Prescott Valley, Arizona. This page has been viewed 1,116 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 5, 2011, by Bob (peach) Weber of Prescott Valley, Arizona. 3, 4. submitted on June 21, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.