Vandals try to destroy historic tower

By C.J. Barbre

Dan Sliskovich had grown used to vandals spray painting graffiti inside the beautiful old pump house designed in a California mission church style.

However, it is made of poured concrete rather than adobe bricks, and has survived pretty much in tact for more than a century. The structure, just off of Avenue 224 is isolated, far away from any other buildings and out of view of passing traffic, which has made it a magnet for such activities.

But Sliskovich was shocked that vandals would go so far as to try and destroy the entire building, and is offering $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators. Reportedly the destruction started after a Lindsay High School football victory on Friday, Oct. 17, their first of the season, which Sliskovich thinks was a contributing factor. Information from the Tulare County Fire Department about the arson and other damage was not available by press time.

Sliskovich said the original 160-acre ranch was owned by a Frenchman by the name of Tourreau, although he was not sure of the spelling of the name. The pump house was built by Chinese labor who had worked on the railroad. He has named the ranch El Toro which he said is synonymous with the first owner. He noted that in Spanish "tower" is el torre. Sliskovich said the ranch has been in his family since the 1960s when it was purchased from the Wakefields. He has long intended to restore it and possibly turn it into a fledgling Casa de Fruta selling olives and olive by products. He said he believes the pump house is still structurally sound despite the roof damage. There is a tall chain-link fence complete with barbed wire around the building.

"Fences only keep out honest people," Sliskovich said. He said they will probably be putting in motion sensor lights and an alarm of some sort.

Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to call the county fire prevention unit at 732-5954 or "We tip," a state-wide hot line at 800-468-4408.

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