Despite its small population of 574 inhabitants and its secluded position amidst the vast, barren expanses of Texas, the small town of Groom boasts an assortment of unique features nearly as diverse as its charming community.
Among its attractions are a preserved slice of the legendary Route 66, the inspiration behind Cross Canadian Ragweed’s evocative tune “42 miles”, the imposing seventh-largest freestanding cross on the globe—soaring at a magnificent 190 feet—and an uncanny leaning water tower that tilts at a discomfortingly steep angle.
Nestled in the heart of Groom, Texas, along a stretch of the historic U.S. Route 66, stands a distinctive monument known as the Leaning Tower of Britten. The water tower’s unmistakable slant has turned it into a captivating roadside spectacle and an ornamental landmark capturing the essence of Americana. Occasionally, this remarkable structure is affectionately referred to as the Leaning Tower of Texas, serving as a symbol of the unique spirit and ingenuity of the region.
The tower was initially an unremarkable, utilitarian water tower destined for demolition. However, fate intervened in the form of Ralph Britten, a savvy entrepreneur who saw untapped potential in the neglected structure. Britten bought the tower, rescued it from impending destruction, and ingeniously relocated it. The leaning tower then began its second life as a vivid billboard, advertising Britten’s truck stop and tourist information center, the Leaning Tower Truck Stop, capturing the attention of both locals and tourists alike.
Tragedy struck in the mid-1980s when a fierce electrical fire devastated the Leaning Tower Truck Stop. The once bustling hub of activity gradually shuttered its doors, leaving behind a small fraction of its former self. Yet, amidst the ashes, a semblance of its past clung on—a modest truck repair shop that continues to serve the local community to this day.
Canted purposefully at an approximately 10-degree angle, the Leaning Tower of Britten proudly defies gravity, making it an irresistible magnet for tourists. A small gravel road adjacent to the tower offers visitors the opportunity to park their vehicles and immerse themselves in the full visual spectacle of the tower. This spot is often visited by photographers attempting to capture the tower in images.
When the Christmas season descends upon the city of Groom, the local community adorns the top of the tower with a massive, multicolored star, turning the landmark into a festive decoration of holiday cheer. Photographs of the water tower, often bathed in the warm hues of the setting Texan sun or gleaming under the star-studded sky, are a staple in Route 66 photography anthologies, a testament to its iconic status.
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