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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Blue Mountain Lake in Hamilton County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Fire Tower

(Whiteface Mountain)

 
 
Fire Tower Marker image. Click for full size.
By Howard C. Ohlhous, July 6, 2011
1. Fire Tower Marker
Inscription.
1885 - 1935
Fire Tower.
The second forest fire
tower in the Adirondacks.
Erected 1909. One of 58 now
maintained by the State in
Adirondacks and Catskills.
New York State Education and
Conservation Departments, 1935

 
Erected 1935 by New York State Education and Conservation Departments.
 
Location. 43° 52.193′ N, 74° 25.958′ W. Marker is in Blue Mountain Lake, New York, in Hamilton County. Marker can be reached from New York State Route 30. Click for map. The marker was originally on Whiteface Mountain, but is now on display, along with the fire tower, at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake. Marker is in this post office area: Blue Mountain Lake NY 12812, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 3 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Lake Durant (approx. 2.1 miles away); The Adirondacks (approx. 2.1 miles away); Pioneer Bridge (approx. 2.3 miles away).
 
Regarding Fire Tower. Whiteface is New York State's fifth tallest mountain and the only fire tower mountain over 4,000 feet in elevation. When this observation station was established in July 1909, no
Fire Tower and Marker image. Click for full size.
By Howard C. Ohlhous, July 6, 2011
2. Fire Tower and Marker
tower was immediately erected, as an unobstructed view was available due to the lack of tree cover on the mountaintop. All that was initially provide was a pole frame structure with a canvas tent stretched over it so that the observer could get in out of the weather.

In 1909, the State acquired a temporary easement on the summit of Whiteface, which was then privately owned. Whiteface was one of the first mountains in the Adirondacks used for forest fire detection in response to devastating forest fires that occurred across the region in 1903 and the early part of 1909. It was also the most expensive to construct due to the need to construct 7.5 miles of telephone line. The log pole station was replaced by a 22 foot tall Aermotor LS40 tower in 1919. The steel tower proved to be too small to accommodate ever increasing use and was supplanted by the current, much larger stone observation tower that was constructed in 1935, after the 4.1 acres comprising the summit were gifted to the State of New York. A road to the summit was built in the 1930's. The road is open from May to October. Foot access is available year round.
 
Also see . . .
1. Historic Structures ond display at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake. (Submitted on July 17, 2011, by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York.)
2. Firetower Study for the Adirondack Park - February 2010 (pdf)
Whiteface Mountain Fire Tower image. Click for full size.
By Howard C. Ohlhous, July 6, 2011
3. Whiteface Mountain Fire Tower
Made in 1919 of steel with a glass and steel cabin at the top, this tower stood on Whiteface Mountain until 1972 when it was dismantled under the wilderness plan which sought to remove evidence of man's presence in wilderness areas. It was re-erected at the Adirondack Museum in 1973. Today aircraft surveillance has replaced most of the remaining fire towers.
. (Submitted on July 17, 2011, by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York.)
 
Additional keywords. Forest Fires Adirondack Adirondeck
 
Categories. EnvironmentHorticulture & ForestryMan-Made FeaturesScience & Medicine
 
Whiteface Mountain Observation Tower image. Click for full size.
By Howard C. Ohlhous, July 6, 2011
4. Whiteface Mountain Observation Tower
The state historic marker describing the Whiteface tower was put up in 1935 to commemorate fifty years of the Forest Preserve and of conservation in New York State. Despite what the sign says, this steel tower was actually built in 1919. It replaced a simple observation position that had been established at Whiteface in 1909 in response to the forest fires of 1903 and 1908, when 464,189 and 346,953 acres, respectively, were burned in the Adirondacks.
During World War I, steel towers began to replace the original log structures. By the 1950s there were over a hundred steel towers on mountains throughout the state, most with telephone lines and cabins for fire observers.
In 1932, the Conservation Department purchased an airplane "to increase the efficiency of fire detection." Eventually, towers and human observers were replace. By the mid-1970s about twenty people were employed as observers, and towers located in Wilderness Areas of the Forest Preserve were being removed. By 1990 only four towers were manned, but public interest in preserving fire towers as historic structures was growing.

This sign is on display at the base of the firetower at the Adirondack Museum.
Whiteface Mountain Fire Tower image. Click for full size.
By Howard C. Ohlhous, July 6, 2011
5. Whiteface Mountain Fire Tower
The observation tower on Whiteface Mountain as it originally stood. This photo is on display in the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York. This page has been viewed 591 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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