Author Marty Podskoch will give a presentation on the new edition of his book, The Adirondack Fire Towers: Their History and Lore, The Southern Districts at the Stillwater Hotel on Wednesday August 9th at 7 pm. He will highlight the Stillwater Fire Tower restoration work and discuss the history of the fire towers in the Southern Adirondacks.
The new edition features a chapter devoted to the men and women who helped restore the Adirondack fire towers since Podskoch’s book was first published in 2003. The six restored towers in this volume include those at Stillwater, Spruce, Adams, Hurricane, St. Regis, and Lyon mountains.
The book also contains information on the 28 state and three private towers in Herkimer, Warren, Washington, Saratoga, Lewis, Fulton, and Hamilton, counties.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fires raged out of control in many of New York State’s vast wooded areas. The years 1903 and 1908 were particularly disastrous, and because of public outcry for protection from the devastation, the state began a rigorous fire prevention and control program, including the building of fire towers.
The first fire towers in the Adirondacks were established in 1909 on Mount Morris in Franklin County, Gore Mountain in Warren County, and West, Snowy and Hamilton mountains in Hamilton County.
These wooden towers were replaced with steel towers 10-15 years later. These towers provided early detection of fires, which greatly reduced the acres destroyed. Eventually the state had about 114 fire towers operating in 1960. In 1970 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) began relying on airplane surveillance for the detection of fires when it was hot, dry, and windy. Between 1970 and 1974, fifty-five of the one hundred staffed towers were closed with the saved funds used to offset the cost of aerial detection. By 1990 only four towers remained in the Adirondacks: St. Regis, Blue, Rondaxe/Bald, and Hadley mountains. These were finally closed in 1990.
Then in the 1990s and early 2000s there was a movement to save and restore the abandoned fire towers.
In the Southern Adirondacks the following towers were restored by Friends groups in partnership with the NYSDEC, the Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), and local Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) members: Blue Mt. (1994), Hadley Mt. (1996-98), Kane Mt. (2000), Snowy Mt. (2002), and Rondaxe/ Bald Mt. (2002), Owls Head (2003), Spruce (2015), and Stillwater (2016).
These Northern Adirondack towers were restored: Goodnow Mt. (1982), Mt. Arab (1998), Tooley Pond Mt. moved to Cathedral Rock (2000), Poke-O-Moonshine Mt. (2001), Azure Mt. (2003), Vanderwhacker Mt. (2004), Mt. Adams ( 2013), St. Regis (2016), and Hurricane Mt. (2017).
After the presentation, Podskoch’s books will be available for purchase.