Here is a little more on the water tower on the M & T Ranch. Liz Stewart and John Gallardo alerted me to the existence of a drawing of the ranch in Butte County Illustrated, a book that was published in 1877. The pictures from this book are available online at Meriam Library Special Collections Historical Photograph Collection.
As you can see, the Reavis Ranch was quite the spread. And you have to admire the fine horses, bulls, and cows that ornament the corners. But it’s hard to see the water tower in this picture, so here is a closeup.
You can see that in 1877 or a little earlier, when the drawing was made, the tower was no more than a box on stilts. It had yet to be enclosed.
Here is another photo of the tower — other pictures in the album have the date March 21, 1922. By this time the ranch was owned by James D. Phelan, the mayor of San Francisco. The photo comes from the Phelan Photograph Album collection at the Bancroft Library, accessible at Calisphere.
There are several other photos of the Reavis Ranch in this collection — pictures of a few outbuildings and fields, such as this one.
Back to Butte County Illustrated — In the upper left corner of the drawing is a picture of Reavis’s famous race horse, Blackbird.
John Bidwell wrote in his diary in 1874:
Fri. December l8.
Somewhat hazy – & clear – Drove to Reavis’ ranch with Van Vliet — Saw Blackbird