Saturday, September 2, 2023

New York State fire tower lighting happening tonight

Woodhull Tower lighting in 2022

Tropical Storm Idalia is crossing the tip of Cuba right now, and it will become a hurricane as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico heading for the west coast of Florida. It is scheduled to hit at high tide on Wednesday, [August 30] with a 7-to-11-foot storm surge in an area that isn’t that much above sea level. People still claim there is no climate change, and that this is just a normal weather pattern. There are three more storms out in the Atlantic. The first one looks like it will stay out to sea, [however] where the other two [will] go hasn’t been determined yet.

Hurricane Hilary that hit California on August 18 caused mudslides and flooding with up to ten inches of rain. This tracked north into Oregon and Washington, where it did some good as it dropped rain on the fires that were happening there. They also got some of the rain into Canada, where it was also needed on the fires there. More New York State Forest Rangers have been sent west on fires in Idaho. Earlier this year, other crews went to Canada and western states on forest fires burning out of control. One [forest fire] they went [to] had no control when they were dispatched, so I’m sure they saw some fire on that one.


Speaking of fires, this Saturday, September 2 [is] the fire tower lighting date in New York (with a rain date of September 3.) There are several towers in this area that will be lit up from 9 to 9:30 p.m. that evening. Wakely Mountain will be lit up early, so it can be seen on the sunset dinner cruise on Raquette Lake Navigation’s WW Durant. Wakely Mountain Tower has a complete look at most of Raquette Lake. To honor those who served, a list of the observers [who] served on the tower while in service will be read this year during the time it is lit.


My list at Woodhull Tower is T.H. Tabor-McKeever 1911-1926, Charles Reed-McKeever-1927-1929, D.E. Williams-Old Forge-1930-1930, Grant Parkhurst-Old Forge-1931-1933, Charles H. Chase-1934-1938, Harry L. Russell-Old Forge-1940-1941, Earl Carman-Old Forge-1941-1944, Daryl Carman-Old Forge-1944-1944, Daryl Carman-Old Forge-1945-1945, William Peacock-Old Forge-1946-1946, Ralph Austin-Old Forge- 1947-1948, Stanley B. Little-Old Forge-1949-1955, John J. Marleau-Big Moose-1955-1955, James Axtell Sr.-Old Forge-1955-1959, Clovis LeBrun- Old Forge- 1959-1962, John J. Gaffney-Old Forge-1964-1964, James M. Ryan- Old Forge- 1965-1970.

Hummingbird in the garden

Hummingbird in the garden. Photo by Don Andrews.

Other towers that will be lit in the area are Rondaxe, Stillwater, Blue, Snowy, Wakely and Owlshead. Some of these can be viewed from area lakes and places on highways where you can see these towers in the daylight. From Woodhull, I can see all of these except Owlshead. If you plan on going up to one of these towers to see it lit, make sure you have lighting to get back down as it isn’t as easy as traveling in daylight. Head lamps are best, as it leaves both hands free to hold onto things along the trail if you need to.


The Old Forge Garden Club will be holding their annual plant sale at the Old Forge Library from 9:30 a.m. until noon on Friday, September 8. Area gardeners will have some of their plants potted and for sale. Many of these are deer resistant and ready to bloom for you next year and many more years. Seeds from many of these plants will also be for sale, so you can plant your own garden. These seeds will produce plants the first year, as wildflowers do, and flowers the second year. Some will produce flowers that first year. Some small red spruce, white pine, and balsam trees will be available to plant in your yard. Come and get your flower garden started…some are shade, and some are sun plants.


The 90-Miler Canoe Classic starts [the morning of September 8] on Old Forge Pond about the time the sun rises out of the fog, and it is safe to start. [It is] always nice to see the start, visit with friends in the race, and wish them a good, safe race. Three days of paddling from Old Forge to Saranac Lake (and a Lake Flower finish on Sunday, September 10) is a lot of paddling. My arms are tired just thinking about it. Some love it and have done it several times, but not me.


The leaves are changing as I look out my window, but that’s another story. See ya.


Photo at top: Woodhull Tower lighting in 2022. Photo by Jake Bills.

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Gary lives with his wife, Karen, at Eight Acre Wood in Inlet where he was the Forest Ranger for 35 years, working in the Moose River Wild Forest Recreation Area and West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Now retired, Gary works summers for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, observing, catching and banding loons. The author of a column Daybreak to Twilight in local papers from 1986 to 2019, he now writes his Outdoor Adventures a weekly blog. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, "Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds."

2 Responses

  1. louis curth says:

    Thanks for that great nighttime fire tower photo Gary, and for acknowledging the services of Woodhull Tower’s Observers.

    Just imagine that there are lists like that for over 100 fire towers all over New York State. Men and women who were essential in protecting us from fire, but also, they were very much a part of the fabric of our rural communities. They deserve to be recognized and appreciated for their conservation work in protecting and educating us, and also for their part as valued members of our communities.

    May this tradition of tower lighting continue in coming years and help us all to remember.

  2. Judy says:

    Very interesting event and one I had never heard of taking place. What is the significance of the fire tower lighting? Do they remain lit through-out the autumn and winter?

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