1963 graffiti artwork on Charlie Brown Water Tower became iconic landmark

PULLMAN, WA - Pullman's "Charlie Brown Water Tower" was recently drained and repaired after it sprung a leak earlier this month, but the tower is more than just a water source for the people of Pullman.

Reporter Rachel Dubrovin gives us a look at the historical significance of the landmark.

The Charlie Brown Water Tower is kind of an icon here in Pullman. Not only is it visible from a lot of places around town, the graffiti on the back side of the tower makes it an important part of Pullman's history."

"I used to drive city bus and tell the high school or the junior high school kids that I painted it, and they'd all laugh at me, and wouldn't believe me for a second," said Water Tower Artist Douglas Rudolph.

Douglas Rudolph said he painted the Peanuts character on the tower in 1963, when he was a sophomore at Pullman High School.

"Decided I wanted to make a statement about how I felt about Pullman," said Rudolph. "You know, Charlie Brown is not a hero, he's the underdog, the loser so to speak. And I identified with him."

Rudolph said it took about four hours and some help from a friend to paint Charlie Brown on the water tower.

"Well I was going for outrage, and everyone loved it," said Rudolph.

Years passed, and the city didn't do anything about Rudolph's act of rebellion.

"I decided at one point that Pullman didn't deserve to have it, and I went up there and painted it out," said Rudolph. "I found some light green paint, went up there, and made it disappear."

Rudolph didn't admit to being the artist for years. But in the summer of 1975, a community member paid a couple high school students to put Charlie back.

"We climb up there, 11 o'clock at night, couldn't see a whole lot," said Corporate Pointe Developers CEO Duane Brelsford. "And when you're young, and 17 years old, you're not too afraid of heights. I mean, right now I'd shake going up the first rung of that ladder."

Longtime Pullman resident Duane Brelsford said he's not the original artist, but he's glad he was able to help preserve Rudolph's artwork.

"He kind of set the tone to make it an iconic water tower here in Pullman," said Brelsford.

And city officials confirm that both the artwork and the water tower will continue to serve the city for years to come.

"The tank is in fine shape, it's structurally sound and we expect to keep on using it for quite some time," said Pullman Director of Public Works Kevin Gardes.

The water tower is currently fully functional and serving the people of Pullman. At about 100,000-gallons, the Charlie Brown Water Tower is one of Pullman's smallest tanks.