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Thread: Maine is rebuilding old fire towers

  1. #1
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    Maine is rebuilding old fire towers

    https://bangordailynews.com/2020/11/...aping-company/

    This is surprising, in the past the Maine Forest Service treated old fire towers as a liability. Years ago when working on the 100 highest I was surprised that the cab was still on Chain of Ponds Snow. Someone had obviously been maintaining it and the views were hard to beat. It blew off in storm at some point.

    Hopefully the public takes care of the new cabs but I dont hold out a lot of hope.

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    NY has been keeping theirs up to date and I believe it's a partnership between the State and private groups for maintenance and fundraising. One thing the towers do is to help divert some traffic from the higher peaks with the best unassisted views as the towers provide views you wouldn't get from below the trees.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    Private "friends" groups are responsible for NY towers still being there. The private groups had to fight very hard AGAINST wild eyed greeenies from Albany in the 1980s and 1990s who were adamant to tear down all the towers (the one that had been on Pharaoh was even destroyed by terrorists during this era).

    True, now the state does offer some logistical support, such as flying materials for repair, etc. But the existence of towers is in spite of the state, not in any way thanks to the state. If the state had had its way 30 years ago, all the towers would be gone.

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    Private "friends" groups are responsible for NY towers still being there. The private groups had to fight very hard AGAINST wild eyed greeenies from Albany in the 1980s and 1990s who were adamant to tear down all the towers (the one that had been on Pharaoh was even destroyed by terrorists during this era).

    True, now the state does offer some logistical support, such as flying materials for repair, etc. But the existence of towers is in spite of the state, not in any way thanks to the state. If the state had had its way 30 years ago, all the towers would be gone.
    In NH in Wilderness Areas, they would tear them down as being man made, since Wilderness areas in the National Forest would be National in nature, those would be federal rules. I understand the idea of reverting back to what they were before men, however, if those towers provide people with a view and help disburse traffic, I'm all for them. I've enjoyed the views from several of them all over the NE. (Stratton, Bear, Hunter, Balsam Lake, Snowy, Blue, Goodenow, Vanderwhacker, Hurricane, Bald, (Rondaxe), Hadley, Pitcher, (The Clingman's Dome structure is more of an observation tower for tourist, I don't believe it was a fire tower)
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    In NH in Wilderness Areas, they would tear them down as being man made, since Wilderness areas in the National Forest would be National in nature, those would be federal rules. I understand the idea of reverting back to what they were before men, however, if those towers provide people with a view and help disburse traffic, I'm all for them. I've enjoyed the views from several of them all over the NE. (Stratton, Bear, Hunter, Balsam Lake, Snowy, Blue, Goodenow, Vanderwhacker, Hurricane, Bald, (Rondaxe), Hadley, Pitcher, (The Clingman's Dome structure is more of an observation tower for tourist, I don't believe it was a fire tower)
    The towers in the Whites were abandoned and largely replaced by aircraft prior to the passage of the Wilderness Act. They were dismantled years prior to any Wilderness declarations in the Whites. Aside from that, the only tower I can think of that would have ended up in a Wilderness area is Speckled Mtn in Maine.

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    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    Private "friends" groups are responsible for NY towers still being there. The private groups had to fight very hard AGAINST wild eyed greeenies from Albany in the 1980s and 1990s who were adamant to tear down all the towers (the one that had been on Pharaoh was even destroyed by terrorists during this era).

    True, now the state does offer some logistical support, such as flying materials for repair, etc. But the existence of towers is in spite of the state, not in any way thanks to the state. If the state had had its way 30 years ago, all the towers would be gone.
    You'll be pleased to know that there are DEC personnel who are actively helping the Forest Fire Lookout Association FFLA (and other organizations) maintain and restore fire towers in NY. The same organization is active around the country, but I'm not sure they had anything to do with the efforts in Maine. I've forwarded this news item to FFLA folks.
    Tom Rankin
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    Senior Member SpencerVT's Avatar
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    I would really like to see old Firetower Mountains cleaned up at the summit. On Snow Mountain (Chain Of Ponds) in Maine, there was dilapidated mess strewn everywhere including lots of spent propane tanks. It was disgusting.
    Similar thing with Hamilton Mountain in New York.
    Either rebuild the fire towers, or haul away the wreckage and trash associated with their decay.
    I wish East Mountain could be cleaned up from the old Air Force Radar base that was up there in the late '50's, but that would cost millions. The Government is responsible for it.
    Spencer
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    The Maine Forest Service actively campaigned to get rid of old structures in the woods for years as they were thought to attract people that might build a fire. Many of the large industrial landowners had the same policy. The most egregious of burning unused structures was the burning of the sheds that contained the locomotives from the Eagle Lake and West Branch railroad https://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/dis...sh/index.shtml Contrary to the assertion that the sheds were accidently burnt down, interviews with MFS employee who did the burning was that it was direct specific orders from the top as they were considered albatrosses. Unfortunately no one pointed out that steel locomotives tend not to burn very well. The MFS has been trying to rewrite that history for years.

    BTW there is a small but active market selling used firetowers for reinstallation. The majority of the towers were built to standard USFS detailed specification https://www.fs.fed.us/eng/facilities...okoutPlans.pdf by several companies including the Jacobs Wind Turbine and Aeromotive wind turbines.

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    Senior Member Hillwalker's Avatar
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    I would like to have seen the old wooden fire tower once on top of Mt Bemis. I have been up there twice over the years and poked around the remains of the tower which appears to have been just pulled down leaving a flattened mess of timbers, glass and roofing. Pretty sad. This summer while toodling around in the North Maine Woods properties I drove my Jeep past the trail to the Green Mountain Fire Tower without comsidering checking it out. Next summer I will.

    It might be fun to join these people to go on some Fire Tower Trips next Summer. https://www.facebook.com/FFLAMAINE/

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    East Mountain would take a lot of money to clean up or restore, either way. What a mess, though the old installation is cool in its own right. I assume that in NH there are fire towers still in operation (e.g., Magalloway)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hillwalker View Post
    I would like to have seen the old wooden fire tower once on top of Mt Bemis. I have been up there twice over the years and poked around the remains of the tower which appears to have been just pulled down leaving a flattened mess of timbers, glass and roofing. Pretty sad. This summer while toodling around in the North Maine Woods properties I drove my Jeep past the trail to the Green Mountain Fire Tower without comsidering checking it out. Next summer I will.

    It might be fun to join these people to go on some Fire Tower Trips next Summer. https://www.facebook.com/FFLAMAINE/
    I saw a reference long ago that the Bemis fire tower was a "twin" to the Kearsage north tower.

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    Senior Member Hillwalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I saw a reference long ago that the Bemis fire tower was a "twin" to the Kearsage north tower.
    Quite possible because the amount of wreckage is not all that large. The tower wouldn't have to be very tall to get good views where it was positioned right at the Eastern edge of Bemis. Pretty interesting semi bushwhack hike. Old steel drums and telephone/telegraph poles still standing in a few places.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NHClimber View Post
    East Mountain would take a lot of money to clean up or restore, either way. What a mess, though the old installation is cool in its own right. I assume that in NH there are fire towers still in operation (e.g., Magalloway)?
    https://www.nh.gov/nhdfl/natural-her...er-history.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    Thanks!

    "By 1980 only 22 towers were in operation. Three aerial detection routes were operated by four private aircraft contractors. By 1982 the network was reduced to 14 towers; all were closed by June 9, 1983 for lack of funds. At this time the towns around Rock Rimmon tower requested and received permission to man the tower on a volunteer basis.

    The next year the towers were operated on a part-time basis. The following year weather turned dry and the towers had to get extra funds and remain open many more hours.

    In 1992, 16 stations were in service, 15 funded by the state and one (Red Hill) by the town of Moultonboro. This continues to be the case today."

  15. #15
    Senior Member maineguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    The Maine Forest Service actively campaigned to get rid of old structures in the woods for years as they were thought to attract people that might build a fire. Many of the large industrial landowners had the same policy. The most egregious of burning unused structures was the burning of the sheds that contained the locomotives from the Eagle Lake and West Branch railroad https://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/dis...sh/index.shtml Contrary to the assertion that the sheds were accidently burnt down, interviews with MFS employee who did the burning was that it was direct specific orders from the top as they were considered albatrosses. Unfortunately no one pointed out that steel locomotives tend not to burn very well. The MFS has been trying to rewrite that history for years.

    BTW there is a small but active market selling used firetowers for reinstallation. The majority of the towers were built to standard USFS detailed specification https://www.fs.fed.us/eng/facilities...okoutPlans.pdf by several companies including the Jacobs Wind Turbine and Aeromotive wind turbines.
    Thanks for that lookout tower specification. Very cool. I do know that the Carrigain and Osceola towers were identical. I never saw the Garfield tower. I also recently learned that there was, for a short time, a fire tower on Shaw.
    Last edited by maineguy; 11-23-2020 at 01:57 PM.

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