They started put being paid $60 a month for their half-year, all-weather stints in the fire tower. Overall, there were twenty-one Fire Observers on Poke-O-Moonshine from 1912 through 1988. Most came from nearby Keeseville, and the first three worked in the original wooden tower before the current one was built in 1917.
That makes the fire tower 100 years old. It was part of a crop of standardized steel towers that New York State built in response to the catastrophic forest fires of the early 20th Century. Drought, high winds, lightning, heaps of logging slash, and sparks from lumber-hauling trains had combined to burn almost a million acres of New York forest over two decades. » Continue Reading.
As part of the Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower Centennial (1917-2017), this summer, The Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine, Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), and Ausable Brewing Company will be hosting an Exhibit and Silent Auction of artwork related to the mountain, its human and natural history, and its fire tower. This is in place of the exhibit that was to be held at the 1719 Block Gallery in Keeseville.
The auction will be held from 7 to 9 pm on July 28 at the AARCH offices at 1745 Main Street, Keeseville, and on July 30 during the Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower Centennial Celebration at Ausable Brewing Company, 765 Mace Chasm Road, Keeseville, from 4:30 to 8 pm. 2D works of Poke-O-Moonshine-themed art, including works on paper or canvas and photography, are eligible for entry. » Continue Reading.
Friends of Stillwater Fire Tower has recruited volunteer Summit Stewards for summer weekends. They’ll be up at the tower from 10 am to 2 pm starting Saturday July 1 through Tuesday July 4th. Summit Stewards will point out Whiteface Mountain and the Adirondack High Peaks to the northeast, the 195 wind turbines overlooking the Black River Valley to the southwest, and the expanse of the Stillwater Reservoir below.
The tower’s authentic 1919 sliding-top map table can be seen, with it’s alidade and vintage Panoramic Map for Stillwater Mountain for locating forest fires. Summit Stewards help tell the story of the 1882 copper survey marker that was stolen over a century ago, found with a metal detector hundreds of miles away in 2013, and was returned to the DEC.
Only later it was discovered that the Station No. 77 marker had come from Stillwater Mountain. It’s empty hole can be seen in the bedrock under the tower, and a brass replacement marker that was reset last September. The recreated stencil of the tower’s shipping information from Chicago can be seen on one of the steel supports. » Continue Reading.
The famed surveyor Verplanck Colvin built the first tower on Stillwater Mountain way back in 1882. The hole that once held his copper marker is still visible on the summit bedrock.
Colvin’s tower is long gone, but a steel tower built in 1919 still stands, and last week the state nominated the structure — along with the fire observer’s cabin and some other buildings — for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Click here to read the state’s application.» Continue Reading.
I recently led a bird walk up Hadley Mountain (or Hadley Hill), near Hadley and Stony Creek.
Hadley’s firetower marks its centennial anniversary this year (1917-2017) so there is increased appreciation of this forest preserve mountain ridgeline (2653’) and its history in the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest.
Dating to its organization under the leadership of Jack Freeman of ADK in 1995, Hadley’s firetower committee, led by local residents, is one of the oldest, most tenacious and effective in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has closed the Wakely Mountain Trail until further notice due to safety concerns with the Wakely Mountain Fire Tower.
“The fire tower was closed to public access in December 2016 due to structural deficiencies,” and announcement from the state agency said. “The condition of the tower has worsened and it is possible the tower may collapse in heavy winds.” » Continue Reading.
As we neared the summit of St. Regis Mountain this past January, the conditions changed dramatically. Tree limbs — caked in snow and ice — hung down over the trail, and as we walked crouched through the tangle of branches, snow cascaded upon us.
“Most of the time I go past that rock outcropping, I feel like I’m home free,” said Doug Fitzgerald, co-chairman of Friends of St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower. “Not today.”
The conditions slowed our travel, but the scenic beauty more than compensated for any inconvenience. The coating of ice and snow on the trees gave them a surreal quality as they glimmered in the afternoon light sneaking through the clouds. We soon emerged from the snow-covered woods onto an open expanse of rock covered by a layer of light snow. » Continue Reading.
At an elevation of 2,264 feet, Stillwater Fire Tower in northern Herkimer County has never been a beacon for tourists. It’s not even modestly high compared to the 46 Adirondack peaks over 4,000 feet.
Since 1912, Fire Observers on Stillwater Mountain needed a high tolerance for isolation and resistance to boredom. Until the fire tower closed in 1988, the annual number visitors ranged from 145 to it’s record of 618. Before the mid-‘50s, when the Big Moose Road was completed, the only access to the tower trail was by boat from the Stillwater Reservoir. Even then, only hard-core hikers who would tolerate eight or twelve miles of dirt road from Number Four or Big Moose Station, enjoyed the tower’s views. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack History Museum will present its Adirondack Fire Tower program for families on Saturday, July 30 from 9 am – 3 pm.
The program features a presentation by museum educator David Thomas-Train at the museum building, and will include a hike up Poke-O- Moonshine.
The free program for families explores the history and ongoing role of fire towers in regional land stewardship. Participants should bring a bagged lunch, and be prepared to hike the mountain. The program is recommended for students in the fourth to eighth grade level. » Continue Reading.
The volunteer group Friends of Stillwater Fire Tower has just completed restoration of the Stillwater Fire Tower. One hundred and twenty-five people hiked to the summit to work on the tower, or attended planning meetings. Mostly North Country and Stillwater locals, but volunteers from all over NY, as well as NJ, MA, PA, DE and FL also took part. The group is partnered with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, who purchased the materials locally and transported them up the mountain.
On Saturday, July 2, 2016, there will be a public Grand Opening celebration at the tower from 11 am until 3 pm. There will be an attendant in the tower to answer questions or help explain the views of the High Peaks in one direction, and the 195 wind turbines on Tug Hill in the other. An 1920 panoramic map and alidade will be on the fire tower’s new map table. » Continue Reading.
Sunday’s Bird Walk at Hadley Mountain (a part of our Adirondack Forest Preserve near the Warren-Saratoga County line) was a wash-out. Linda Champagne, intrepid newsletter editor for the Hadley Firetower Committee, was the exception. As we walked up the trail a ways, the drumbeat of rain on our heads slowed, and the migratory birds breeding and raising young here could not help themselves. They sang not for our sake but for the life force that seizes and keeps a territory, and a mate in the right habitat, with the right food for that species and its nestlings.
From the parking lot we heard the incessant song of red-eyed vireo; then a veery; an ovenbird; then a hermit thrush. The rain picked-up again, all song was drowned-out, and we headed back to the parking lot. On the way down, I noticed a red eft salamander crossing the trail. These are the dramatically changed terrestrial stage of the common newt or yellow spotted salamander. Having left their natal ponds, these efts are in the forest making a living until their return to aquatic life in a year, two or three, or more. Their dramatic red-orange color warns off potential predators, and fortunately warned me from stomping on him. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) has partnered with two volunteer groups, the Friends of Hurricane Mountain and the Friends of St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower to facilitate the restoration, interpretation, and management of the Hurricane Mountain and St. Regis Mountain fire towers.
Both groups were formed to advocate for the preservation and public use of these towers, which were built in the early 20th century to protect Adirondack forests from devastating forest fires. In November, 2014, the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) issued a final unit management plan that would recognize the historic significance of the towers and allow for their restoration. » Continue Reading.
Last winter, my daughter Becky and her fiancé, Joe, wanted to climb one of the Saranac Lake 6, so we snowshoed up St. Regis Mountain.
Although I like St. Regis – with its marvelous views of ponds and lakes—I am not an enthusiastic snowshoer. I mean, snowshoeing is OK, but I like cross-country skiing a whole lot more.
As we walked through the woods, I kept thinking, “This would be a great ski trail.” The terrain is gentle enough that on our way off the mountain we encountered a guy in MicroSpikes running up the mountain.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released the final unit management plans (UMPs) for the Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area and the Saint Regis Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area.
DEC will allow volunteer organizations to restore the two fire towers and reopen them to the public. » Continue Reading.
If my memory services me, I believe 2015 will mark the 20th since the Hadley Mountain Fire Tower Committee was organized in 1995 with the help of a spirited group of local leaders and historians in Hadley and Luzerne and Corinth, as well as the leadership of Jack Freeman of the Adirondack Mountain Club, the NYS DEC Forest Rangers, and a volunteer from the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (AFPA), Linda Champagne.
As a leader of AFPA I was glad to join Linda at one of the committee’s early meetings. Now working with Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, I still hike the mountain every year in recognition of a voluntary group completely dedicated to an educational, historically significant part of the NYS Forest Preserve. And I hike up in hopes of talking with a Summit Steward.
I doubt any Hadley Fire Tower friends organization can claim to have a better newsletter than the annual Hadley Fire Tower Mountain News issued each spring for twenty years by the aforementioned Linda Champagne. The News is packed with historical, cultural and environmental news, paintings, photographs, perspective and poetry from the viewpoint of mountain people who have known the mountain for generations, and who with the vital help of NYS DEC are doing a lot more than simply keeping the fire tower upright – although the tower’s restoration and maintenance was a founding purpose of the committee. » Continue Reading.
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