The Cripple Creek Water Tower & Patriot Lighting buildings from Menards

Posted by Bob Keller
on Monday, September 28, 2020

The Cripple Creek water tower is a distinctive steam-era structure.The base is decorated and the spout can be manually raised and lowered – and has a metal counter-weight.

Today we’re checking out two new structures from Menards, the Cripple Creek Water Tower (279-5924 $39.99) and the Patriot Lighting low-relief background building (no. 279-5925, $59.95).

The Cripple Creek water tower.

The is a large tank that can “fill” the water requirements of your largest steamers, but which would look right at home on a backwoods railroad with slight steamers and Shays. The structure has a nice, compact 6x6-inch footprint and measures a foot tall.

The base is decorated and the supports suggest wood construction. There is an interesting variety in the color of the wood. Below the tank there is a square housing rising up around where the main ground water pipe would be.

The tank has wood construction with thin bands around the diameter. There is a ladder running upward. To the side of the ladder is a water level measurement sign. A neat detail is the waterspout. It has a metal chain with counterweight attached to it.

The structure has a modest footprint and can easily be spotted in a busy freight yard or in an isolated location along your mainline. While I’ll always be nostalgic about my Postwar Lionel water tank, this may be the modern water supply your steamers need. And what if you are all diesel-powered? A weathering job would make this look great as an abandoned tank!

The no. 279-5924 Cripple Creek Water Tower costs $39.99) and requires no power supply.

Key detail points include a ladder, water level measurement gauge, and a cosmetic “hatch” for personnel to access the tank.

The tank isn’t too large for small steamers, such as this MTH 2-6-0 and it would look good with larger locomotives.

This is a nice representation of a general purpose warehouse or distribution center. Unpowered it could be the start or end of the workday.

The Patriot Lighting background building

Just as much larger buildings from Menards may have a removable run-through section to allow you to place it at the back side of your layout, Menards’ line of low relief structures allows you freedom to further decorate those odd spots with industrial facades.

Accordingly, this has a very modest footprint. The front is 11 inches wide, 9-1/2 inches tall and 2-3/4 inches deep. It has enough weight that it should be stable and secure from the rumble of a passing train causing any movement.

The model mimics a distribution warehouse with three levels. The first level has a loading dock, office door, and warehouse access. A stairway rises to the second floor. The floor has a doorway and four eight-pane windows. The first level has two windows and the company sign. Add-on details include three workers, a dumpster, hand truck, garbage can, and of course, Jack.

The exterior lighting has 20 LED, and you’ll need the Menards 4.5-volt Plug & Play lighting system are on the left side of the building, or through a drop down pigtail connection. To power the lights, check Menards SKUs 279-4061, 279-4062, or 279-4050.

Both these new structures from Menards are worth checking out. 


If you are familiar with Menards structure, you can recognize the detail in the siding and concrete. This helps give continuity between many of the structures for a more uniform appearance.

Illumination of the company sign and warehouse entry look good in normal lighting.

With the room lights off, the lighting stands out and keeps the 1:48 scale burglars away!

Saving the best for last: This building has the visual “brawn” on a full size structure, but with a minimal footprint. The narrow width may inspire you plan some urban renewal and insert a few background structures for more detail in your background!

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