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 changes the painted numbers on "Rattlesnake Tank" to reflect the year the incoming seniors at Fallbrook High School will graduate.
FPUD staff just painted over the "22," changing it to "23," to welcome the next graduating class.
The reason for the annual external makeover? For more than 40 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 then paint it themselves. Since it's a long way down, the FPUD staff of more than 40 years ago became concerned for their safety.
So they installed a fence around the tank. But that didn't deter the lively bunch. They just began jumping the fence in the middle of the night. So FPUD struck a deal: if they would stop risking their safety for the dare, staff would paint the tank every year to commemorate them. And they've been doing it ever since!
It takes district staff about eight hours to paint the 25-foot-tall numbers onto the 3.6 million-gallon tank. Since the tank shares the space with several cell towers, they make arrangements with them to power-down their towers. Then FPUD crews hoist themselves up to the tower and get to work, painting.
Rattlesnake Tank was built in the early 1950s and is one of FPUD's oldest and most visible water tanks.
Submitted by Fallbrook Public Utility District.