Fire towers are one of the most iconic structures in the Adirondack Park, and the 34 that remain on top of various peaks serve as beacons to hikers far and wide. A handful of the historic towers – which date back to the 1900s – have been restored and opened to the public, including the 35 foot high tower on Hurricane Mountain.
The Friends of Hurricane Mountain have worked diligently to prevent the tower from being torn down and to rehabilitate it so it could once again be enjoyed by hikers. Now, the group is looking for volunteers to help spread the word about this historic landmark.
Photo provided by the Friends of Hurricane Mountain
In the 20th century, fire towers served an extremely important purpose in the Adirondacks. Fire observers were stationed at each tower and were tasked with spotting and reporting the location of any fires in the area. The system proved to be highly successful until aircraft became a more popular means of fire spotting in the 1970s.
The Hurricane Mountain tower was shut down in 1973, and by 2001, New York State recommended its removal. This created serious backlash within the community from dedicated groups who were determined to see the tower restored to its former glory.
Thanks to tremendous effort by tower supporters, the Hurricane Mountain fire tower earned a spot on the National Register of Historical Places in June 2007. In 2010, the State classified the land the tower stands on as “historic,” which meant it would not be torn down.
By the time restoration began in 2015, the Hurricane Mountain tower had fallen into serious disrepair. Efforts by the Friends of Hurricane Mountain, a Student Conservation Association crew, and the Department of Environmental Conservation have resulted in the tower being repaired and officially re-opened to the public!
Hikers are drawn to fire tower-topped peaks not only because of their historical significance, but also in order to complete the Fire Tower Challenge. This popular challenge requires summitting 18 of the Adirondack fire tower peaks and all five of the fire tower peaks in the Catskills. Although many of the actual towers still remain closed to the public, hikers looking to cross Hurricane Mountain off their challenge list can admire the view from 35 feet above the summit.
In the past, people who had a passion for the Adirondacks spent countless hours at the top of the fire tower, standing guard over the mountain and protecting it from wildfires. Now, the Friends of Hurricane Mountain are looking for people with the same love and respect for the Adirondacks to carry on the legacy by becoming Summit Stewards.
According to Sun Community News, Summit Stewards are required “to greet hikers, provide educational information about the landmark geography, history, and restoration of the fire tower.” If you love history, the outdoors, and have a passion for the Adirondacks, this could be the perfect volunteer opportunity for you! For more information, contact Kathleen Blaisel at (518) 946-2622 or .