Friday, June 23, 2017

Fire Towers

The use of fire towers to spot forest fires was in its heyday from the 1930s through the 1950s.  Located on a high point of land, they towered over the trees in forested and rugged landscapes, manned by seasonal employees willing to live in remote and rough locations, forming a network of communication across America.
 
This abandoned tower is located on Forest Service land just outside of Georgetown.  It looks like it hasn't been used in a very long time.

Many of the towers and rough roads to them were built by the CCCs (Civilian Conservation Corps) created by President Roosevelt in the Great Depression.

Early communication took place  by telephone, carrier pigeon, and a machine that sent Morse Code signals by flashes of light.

I climbed a few of these towers when I was a kid and when I was in college the Forest Service recruited for summer "fire lookouts" on campus.  I looked into it but took a job at a scout camp instead.  As I remember, the pay would have been a lot better but the jobs were out west and transportation was a problem.
There are many fire towers still in use today, manned by humans using technology a bit more sophisticated than carrier pigeons, I imagine.  

 The Forest Service also rents out unmanned towers during the summer for about $40 a night.  Be prepared to hike in (and up!) carrying your own water, equipment, and supplies!  

This one in Oregon looks pretty inviting to me.  





 


19 comments:

  1. fire towerlooks interesting and iot is not common in Europe

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  2. Went up in one in the Okefenoke Swamp back when we lived here in the 80's. I don't climb anything anymore.

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  3. That is an enterprising idea to have these now unused towers put to work
    as a tourist overnight attraction.
    Would be a bit of a nuisance at night if you had a desire to do a #2!!!
    I suppose a #1 could be done over the side - ha ha.
    Interesting as always post, Cynthia.
    Cheeers
    Colin

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    1. And very interesting comments, Colin! 😂

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    2. My dear Cynthia
      One must always carefully consider the dynamics of natural physical
      and bodily functions be it up a fire tower overnight or just wandering
      along the beach front of Hilton Head.
      I am sure my mate, Mason would agree????
      Colin
      PS: A perfect summer day AT LAST here at Terrigal.

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  4. Often the people manning the towers were very entertaining. I took outdoor ed field trips up to one look out. The old guy was very entertaining.

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  5. I would love to spend a night in one.

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  6. We grew up with a tower in our neighborhood, it was an exciting place. My Aunt worked in the Fire Towers for many summers, she enjoyed it. I wish I had asked her more about it! :) I am afraid of heights so it would not be my kind of vacation to stay in one all night! :)

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  7. That would have been an interesting summer job but wow, what a lot of climbing. Fun to rent one for the night.

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  8. Not sure that I could manage the climb these days, but I bet that it has amazing views.

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  9. When staying up there, you have to carry a lot with you all the stairs. Must have been a nice summer job anyway to watch out for the fires. They can be devastating as we saw in Portugal last week.

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  10. I read a book by someone who was a fire spotter out west. All the supplies had to be packed in, quite a chore. Sleeping accommodation were on the ground not in the tower. Don't remember the title but it was quite fascinating.

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  11. I did a double take at your title intrigued as always by what you were posting Cynthia. Luckily a happy fire and tower story, after days of watching the very sad reporting of the British fire in a London tower block. Yay, this is a great idea for the view but I'm not sure about spending the night up there, I think I might feel a tad exposed, just call me a BIG wimp!
    Have a lovely Sunday!
    Wren x

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  12. I bet a night up there would be an experience of some kind; you'd need to take it easy with the beer, though.

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  13. This is interesting! We live three miles from Fire Tower Road where there is a fire tower still being used. When I was a teenager my family lived on another Fire Tower Road down home. My sister and brother climbed the tower, but I never had the nerve. That one in your post looks pretty cozy but I would be scared to death of it.

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  14. That would be a quirky place to stay, great serenity, fabulous views.

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  15. The fire tower view looking inviting, but not so much the climb up, now if it only had an elevator!

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  16. If I could climb that would be my kind of vacation!

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