Leaning Tower of Texas

The town of Groom, TX lies approximately 40 miles east of Amarillo and is home to a population of around 500 residents. Located in Carson County, the town is a section of the Amarillo, Texas Metropolitan Statistical Area. Despite covering a small portion of land as well as housing a small number of Texas residents, Groom is home to two different, quite notable tourist attractions. The first one is a giant cross, but not just any cross.

The cross located in Groom is 19 stories tall and is the largest free standing cross in the western hemisphere according to some, although these claims have been refuted as the cross in Valle de los Caídos, Spain, the one in St. Augustine, Florida, and the church tower resembling the shape of a cross in Seinäjoki, Finland are all bigger. In 2016, Abundant Life Fellowship in Corpus Christi erected a 210 foot tall cross making the one in Groom not even the biggest in Texas anymore. Nevertheless, the cross is a stunning site to see and contains all 14, life-size Stations of the Cross statues, one being the tomb.

The other attraction located in Groom, TX is the Leaning Tower of Texas, a leaning water tower. The site is an non functioning water tower that sits along the now defunct Route 66 that was restructured to be Interstate 40. While it appears to be falling over, this is a strategic trick that Ralph Britten employed to attract tourists to his truckstop and restaurant. Britten used a bulldozer to lift two legs of the tower off the ground to make them dangle without anything touching them and putting the structure at a 10 degree angle.

It was first a water tower that was used for the normal purpose of a water tower, but when it was purchased by Britten, it was then used as a marketing tactic to attract travelers making their way down Route 66 to his truckstop and restaurant. After purchasing the tower, he towed it to his property and wrote “Britten USA” on the side of it, then employed his grand plan to make it lean at an angle so people would be intrigued by it. . His business was located further back behind the tower, but went out of business after a fire happening decades ago. The building is now boarded up and in disarray, but can still be seen when viewing the tower.

A quite brilliant marketing ploy, Britten attracted a lot of customers out of concern for the possibly collapsing water tower. According to Atlas Obscura, passerbys would regularly travel down the gravel road to the truckstop and restaurant to warn Britten of the water tower’s potential fate. The illusion of the Leaning Tower of Texas, also commonly referred to and maybe better known as the Leaning Tower of Britten after its creator, has an explanation that involves physics that allows it to lean and stay upright. Because the tower is not full of water, but also not completely empty, the center of gravity is at a place that is optimal for leaning.

While Britten’s business eventually went under due to a fire, the water tower still stands and is featured in many books containing photographs of historic Route 66.

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Map from Leaning Tower of Texas to Panhandle Blasting & Restoration:

Map from Leaning Tower of Texas to Midway Point of Route 66: