Speculator, NY – The Village of Speculator will soon erect the newly-reconstructed Makomis fire tower near the entrance to the Sacandaga Pathway. It is anticipated to be in place by July 4.
According to Village of Speculator Mayor Jeanette Barrett, this project was solidified after a great deal of planning and hard work.
“The idea of having a fire tower in Speculator has been a long time coming for many people in the area,” said Mayor Barrett.
Preserving the structure and recording its history presents an opportunity to educate people about the history of Adirondack fire towers. Once the fire tower is in place, a kiosk located nearby will highlight the fire tower’s role in the region so that visitors can learn about this important piece of Adirondack history. Mayor Barrett also hopes the fire tower will draw tourists to the area.
The Makomis fire tower was originally a wooden structure, built near the town of North Hudson in 1911. In 1916, the wooden tower was replaced by a steel structure, making it one of the first 11 steel fire towers built in New York State. The fire tower was eventually closed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in 1970. It was dismantled and removed from the mountain top in 1978 by Bruce Vowles and stored for over 30 years at the home of George Barber, a retired surveyor.
Mayor Barrett explained the subsequent change in ownership and restoration plans.
“In the mid-1990s, Dean Lane obtained the Hooker Hill fire tower from Marty Podskoch, author of several books on fire towers. Lane hoped to restore and put up the fire tower in town, but it needed a lot of repairs, so the project never materialized. Lane has since passed away, but his son Jonathan wanted to make the fire tower project a reality to honor his father,” she said.
Mike Vilegi, owner of Excelsior fire towers, purchased the tower in 2019 and began the reconstruction project.
Once the tower is erected in Speculator, it will be part of both the Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge and the Hamilton County Fire Tower Challenge, a series of hikes that visitors and local residents can complete. Organizers are also hoping to submit a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.
The fire tower project is being funded through both public and private investment. A $100,000 Community Smart Growth grant from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and another $10,000 in funding from the Adirondack Foundation kick-started the project. The Village of Speculator plans to contribute $55,000, of which $47,650 has already been raised through generous donations, according to Mayor Barrett.
Anyone interested in donating to the project should contact the Village of Speculator at (518) 548-7354 or via email at [email protected].
Photo at top: The Makomis fire tower will be installed near the entrance to the Sacandaga Pathway. (Photo provided by Sydney Aveson, communications coordinator for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.)