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Shot Tower

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1856. East end of 4th St., at Commercial St.
  • (HAER)

Early panoramic views of Dubuque show the 150-foot-high limestone-and-brick shot tower “posing” on the banks of the Mississippi River like an Egyptian obelisk overlooking the Nile. It was the presence of lead that encouraged Julien Dubuque to come to the place and begin his mining operations. The production of lead shot for guns was, briefly, an important industry for the city. Melted lead was poured from the top of the tower, and it formed perfect spherical balls as it dropped and cooled. At the bottom was a large receiving tank of water. The tower was actually used for production only from 1852 through 1862. In 1874 an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson (by John J. Kavanaugh) was placed on top of it, but this remained only through 1881. After suffering from general neglect for many years, the tower was stabilized in 1959, and it remains one of the city's major landmarks.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim


What's Nearby


David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim, "Shot Tower", [Dubuque, Iowa], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Iowa, David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 82-82.

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