The Elkhorn water tank was built by Northern Pacific Railway in 1890 to serve the silver mining boomtown of Elkhorn. Replenishing the steam locomotives with water was crucial after they battled the four percent grade up to the town. After the railway left, the tank was most likely used as part of a fire suppression system for the town of Elkhorn.
The Friends of the Elkhorn Water Tank used MHF funds to stabilize the water tank until the restoration process began. The Elkhorn water tank may be the oldest standing water tank in the region and might be the only known remaining Standard Plan 48,000 gallon water tank of the era to still exist in the U.S.