Tower Hill State Park
The Shot Tower.
The shot tower operated intermittently under various owners from 1833 until 1861. Shot making involved a smelting house, the shot tower itself at the top of the sandstone cliff, a 120-foot shaft cut through the rock beneath the tower, and a 90-foot access tunnel leading to a finishing house beside the Wisconsin River. Molten lead poured into a perforated ladle, dropped 180 feet, and formed shot as it fell, landing in a pool of water at the bottom of the shaft. Cooled shot was loaded into horse-drawn railcars and drawn through the tunnel to the finishing house for drying and polishing. Then it was loaded aboard boats on the Wisconsin River which at that time flowed past the base of the bluff. Helena was a sufficiently prosperous mining community in 1836 to make a serious bid for the territorial capital. When in 1856 Spring Green secured the railroad connection and Helena was bypassed, it began to wither in the ensuing depression of the late 1850s. Foundations of the Helena buildings still remain in the park.