The Moonlight Towers were originally connected to electric generators at the Austin Dam (now Tom Miller Dam). In the 1920s, the original carbon-arc lamps, which were hard to maintain, were replaced by incandescent lamps and they in turn were replaced by mercury vapor lights in the 1930s.
The lights were controlled by a switch at the base of each tower. In World War II, they were all connected to a central switch allowing city-wide blackouts in case of an air raid or drill.
In 1970, the towers were recognized as Texas State Landmarks and the remaining 17 went on the NRHP. Only six are in their original locations.
In 1993, the City of Austin paid $1.3 million to completely dismantle and restore the towers. Their return to service were celebrated with a city-wide festival.
One was prominent in the 1993 movie "Dazed and Confused" as the site of a high school kegger party.