For half a cen­tu­ry now, travelers on busy In­ter­state 94 have been greet­ed by the smiley-faced Freeport wa­ter tower. Built near­ly 100 years ago, the tower first got its face in the early 1970s, when painting a face was suggested by a few of the city employees.

Towns­peo­ple liked it so much that they put it on the city’s of­fi­cial seal.

“It took on a life of its own,” said Mike Eveslage, may­or of the Stearns County town of 670 resi­dents a­bout 100 miles north­west of the Twin Cities. “That’s our land­mark. Hon­est­ly, that’s prob­a­bly our claim to fame.”