The Stillwater Fire Tower has received a new interpretive sign that recounts Stillwater’s the towers that preceded the present 1919 steel tower. The latest tower was reopened after restoration in 2016.
The sign is bolted to the tower near the empty drill hole in the bedrock that once held a Verplanck Colvin Adirondack Survey marker from 1882.
The sign, designed and erected by the NYS DEC, pictures an aerial photo of the tower during autumn by Pete Bogardus. Framing the right edge are architectural plans of the steel tower manufactured in Chicago and shipped by rail to the New York Central’s flag stop at Woods Lake Station, between Big Moose and Beaver River. (Steel framework was offloaded to an International Paper logging spur near Twitchell Creek, and dragged by horses to Stillwater’s summit.)
Four historic photos and a brief description of Stillwater Mountain’s history are displayed, including a drawing from Lewis County Surveyor S.H. Snell’s 1882 Adirondack survey notebook of the signal tower on Stillwater Mt. with a reflective wind-driven spinner atop. That was spotted by Verplanck Colvin’s surveyors on West and Woodhull mountains, establishing Stillwater as a Primary Triangulation Station. Stillwater Mountain was thus connected to Colvin’s survey starting points – Crown Point and Barber’s Point lighthouses on Lake Champlain.
Two 1910 snapshots of this writer’s wife’s relatives are pictured atop the original signal tower that was rebuilt in 1908. Clarence Shaver, the Lyons Falls man in a necktie, and his bride-to-be Louise Churchill in ankle length dress, had hiked with her chaperone father, H.C. Churchill, owner of the Old Homestead at Stillwater, who stands behind the ladder. At the time, the trail to the tower was only reached by water from Stillwater. (Big Moose Road was not constructed until the mid-1950s). The 1902 dam (Stillwater’s third) created what was then called the Beaver River Flow.
A fourth photo on the bottom right, is Stillwater’s first fire tower built of logs in 1912, atop the earlier signal tower. A dozen people are pictured from the ground up to the third platform. That triple-decker tower photo was provided by Maridee Rutledge, whose fire tower spark started as an Arab Mt. Summit Steward, and later named as Friends of Stillwater Fire Tower’s first chair.
Unlike other fire tower interpretive signs at the trailhead, Stillwater demands exercise. The hike to Stillwater’s tower is a mile of steady climb. A new privy has been installed at the trailhead on the Big Moose Road.
The Stillwater Fire Tower is located on the Big Moose Road two miles east of the Stillwater Rd. From Lowville, take the Number Four Rd. and turn right on the Stillwater Rd. From Eagle Bay turn on the Big Moose Rd and keep going. The tower boast views from the High Peaks in the Hudson River watershed, to the Maple Ridge Wind Farm on the Tug Hill Plateau in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River watershed.
Photos of Stillwater Fire Tower Interpretive Sign, and Stillwater’s first fire tower, provided by Friends of Stillwater Fire Tower.