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Rattlesnake Tank paint recognizes high school seniors

FALLBROOK – For anyone who has ever wondered why the water tank up the hill from South Mission Road is painted with numbers each year, here’s a little Fallbrook history. Every year, the Fallbrook Public Utility District (FPUD) changes the paint numbers on the “Rattlesnake Tank” to reflect the year the incoming seniors at Fallbrook High School will graduate. Just recently, FPUD staff painted over the “10,” changing it to “11,” to welcome the graduating class of 2011.

For over 30 years, FPUD has painted the tank as the ultimate tribute to Fallbrook’s high school seniors. And as much as this recognizes the class of Fallbrook’s future, it has more to do with Fallbrook’s past. In the years before FPUD began painting the tank, seniors – taking on a dare – would climb up the hill in the middle of the night, scale the tank and paint it themselves. Since it’s a long way to fall, FPUD was concerned for their safety.

So FPUD installed a fence around the tank, but that didn’t deter the lively bunch: They just began to jump the fence in the middle of the night. So then FPUD struck a deal: If the seniors would stop risking their safety for the dare, FPUD would paint the tank every year to commemorate them. And they’ve been doing it ever since.

It takes district staff about six hours to paint the 25-foot-tall numbers onto the 3.6 million-gallon tank. Rattlesnake Tank was built in the early 1950s and is one of FPUD’s oldest and most visible water tanks.


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