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Old 04-06-2022, 10:12 PM   #1
hikingandwildex
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70+ Standing Fire Towers Mapped

In my extensive research of New York's fire towers, I have found more than 70 standing towers scattered throughout the state. Many are open and climbable, some are open but not climbable, and others are not accessible to the public. I have mapped out these towers as best as I could here:

NEW YORK'S STANDING FIRE TOWERS

Feel free to suggest any additions or corrections to this map. This is a work-in-progress that will contain more detailed information in the future. I also plan to create a similar map for Pennsylvania's fire lookouts that will include these and more.

PRIMARY SOURCES:
http://nysffla.org/alphalist.html
https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/100900.html
https://www.cnyhiking.com/NYStateFireTowers.htm
https://easternuslookouts.weebly.com/new-york.html
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Old 04-06-2022, 11:30 PM   #2
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There is the Randall tower in Cuyler and I have read that the Perkins Memorial Tower was a fire tower on Bear Mountain. Bear Mountain is included in my own personal list. It's talked about in http://nysffla.org/alphalist.html and https://easternuslookouts.weebly.com/new-york.html. What's this about the Grafton Lakes Tower, is that new? I know that more are expected to be raised. Bramley is one. You got Black Rock and the one in Manhattan Nice. This is always evolving. Ingraham was taken down unfortunately, but it was being used as an communication tower.

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Old 04-06-2022, 11:36 PM   #3
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Sure enough Grafton Lakes has a 2nd very short tower on display at the Welcome Center. I found it on Google Satellite and Street View. It's hard to keep up with the new exhibit and backyard towers people put on their properties.
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Old 04-07-2022, 12:15 AM   #4
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As far as I know, Rock Rift, Graham, Rosa Gap, Colfax, and Leonard Hill are all approachable but not climbable unless things have changed. I was at Rock Rift last April. The ticks were bad. What's giving me second thoughts about finishing off the Hudson Valley towers is the tick onslaught. I visited the Irvine/Science Hill Tower at the Ellicottville Boces. I hiked their trail system till I found it. I asked the attendant, at the Allegany State Park stone lookout tower, about the Pine Creek Tower owned by the Senecas. He literally told me just to go there and follow the power line corridor, but I didn't. I looked at the entrance but I felt I needed more confirmation on the legality of visiting the tower. I have been by Alma and had visual of what could have been the owner outside of his home. They looked preoccupied with family stuff so I left them alone about asking for permission. I never saw the tower through the trees unfortunately and I tried a few vantage points from other hills.

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Old 04-07-2022, 05:37 AM   #5
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There is the Randall tower in Cuyler and I have read that the Perkins Memorial Tower was a fire tower on Bear Mountain. Bear Mountain is included in my own personal list. It's talked about in http://nysffla.org/alphalist.html and https://easternuslookouts.weebly.com/new-york.html. What's this about the Grafton Lakes Tower, is that new? I know that more are expected to be raised. Bramley is one. You got Black Rock and the one in Manhattan Nice. This is always evolving. Ingraham was taken down unfortunately, but it was being used as an communication tower.
Perkins is one that I have been going back and forth on, along with a few viewing platforms that aren't technically firetowers (like the ones in Montezuma NWR and Lakeview WMA in Central New York). I included the Oak Orchard WMA tower because of its history that you introduced me to in another thread.

The one in Cuyler sounds vaguely familiar. I'll research it some more this evening when I have a little more free time.

That NYSFFLA website provides more info on the small tower at the Grafton Lakes visitor center:

Quote:
This tower, originally located in the Florida Panhandle at West Bay was relocated by Davana LLC for NYS Parks. Wanting to connect the next generation of young explorers to fire towers, the park had the tower installed in a playground next to the Grafton Lakes State Park Visitor Center in December of 2017.
I may check out the Pine Creek tower in the near future to verify its exact location. It's one of the few that you cannot see on satellite view because the surrounding trees have grown above it (Lindell Lookout just south of Little Rock City is another). It's not too far from the ASP boundary, so I could probably get away with a quick out-and-back with 42.094830, -78.852405 being the most logical starting point. I might also check out the Ellicottville tower when the school is on spring break.

Great to hear that more fire towers are planned to be raised in the future. My personal suggestion for a new tower location? Bare Hill above Canandaigua Lake. It's an open summit area on state land, with a family-friendly trail going up. These views of the lake would be amazing from an observation tower. It would make Bare Hill a prime tourist destination in the Western Finger Lakes. If I ever get a drone, I'm going to fly it 50-100 feet up to see how good the views would be from that height.
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Old 04-07-2022, 10:46 AM   #6
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At one point the DEC had a number of dismantled fire towers in storage- I think it was a combination of existing towers that were removed but the materials were kept in case they wanted to re-assemble them elsewhere, as well as spare pieces for repairs and the erection of brand new towers.

I know that there were tentative plans at one time to erect a fire tower at the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar, NY (just outside of Albany), but the plan never came to fruition.
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Old 04-07-2022, 02:32 PM   #7
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Great to hear that more fire towers are planned to be raised in the future. My personal suggestion for a new tower location? Bare Hill above Canandaigua Lake. It's an open summit area on state land, with a family-friendly trail going up. These views of the lake would be amazing from an observation tower. It would make Bare Hill a prime tourist destination in the Western Finger Lakes. If I ever get a drone, I'm going to fly it 50-100 feet up to see how good the views would be from that height.
Bare Hill might be nice - so might Stid Hill or Gannet Hill. I know some other prime areas in that region for a lookout, but they are private. Stid you could probably see Canandaigua lake to the east and all the hills and valleys to the south and west.


There's a wooden tower at Cumming Nature Center (owned by Rochester Museum and Science Center) but you can't see anything from it. They just set it in the middle of the woods where nothing was cleared. They actually have a higher point up on the hill they could have put it, but I guess maybe that's too far for people to walk? They also used to have this cool elevated observation deck over their beaver pond, but that looks like it's ready to fall in the water and was closed off last time I was there.



Slightly off topic, but I found out a year or so back that our fire towers pale in comparison to the western counterparts. Instead of a dinky cab, they have an entire living quarters with a full observation deck all around. Some people have converted them to Airbnb's. For all you lean-to and fire tower enthusiasts, I imagine this is the pinnacle of your existence.
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Old 04-07-2022, 03:16 PM   #8
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Added Perkins Memorial Tower on Bear Mountain and the Randall tower that was originally on Swancott Hill. A discussion on this forum helped me locate it!

On the subject of disassembling towers, I wonder if anything's ever going to be done about the Mount Tuscarora tower in Allegany SP. That thing's an eyesore. It cannot be climbed and has been dwarfed by the surrounding trees for a long time. At this point, I'd recommend taking it down and maybe having a plaque at that spot to commemorate the tower's history. The Summit Fire Tower in ASP is much nicer and has a kiosk with historical info on firetowers in general.

Stid Hill is another good possibility, though most of the hilltop is private property. The starred part of the WMA might be a good spot for a tower if it's tall enough to remain above treeline for decades to come. Long-term tree growth is always a consideration as evidenced by the aforementioned Tuscarora -- and most of the other remaining towers in WNY that no longer have views.



If I had a choice, I would choose Bare which has a larger open hilltop area that's on public land. Andy Arthur compared it to the Dolly Sods with its "high elevation and open landscape." Stid has a good enough clearing towards the Bristol Mountain ski resort. That view is worth going up the steep trail from Route 64 and then sidehilling beneath all those private property signs!

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Old 04-07-2022, 03:30 PM   #9
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Slightly off topic, but I found out a year or so back that our fire towers pale in comparison to the western counterparts. Instead of a dinky cab, they have an entire living quarters with a full observation deck all around. Some people have converted them to Airbnb's. For all you lean-to and fire tower enthusiasts, I imagine this is the pinnacle of your existence.
The southeast also has some fire lookouts with spacious cabs that make you feel like you're at the ones in the Firewatch or The Long Dark video games. You can reserve an overnight stay at the Thorny Mountain Fire Tower in West Virginia -- if there's availability. Alas, I couldn't find an open date for the end of the month when I'll be down that way.

Here's one on the WV/VA state line that I thought was interesting...

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Old 04-07-2022, 04:20 PM   #10
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Added the Adirondack History Museum's fire tower at 44.215240, -73.591100.

Source: https://aarch.org/preserve/fire-towers/regional-list/
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Old 04-07-2022, 04:52 PM   #11
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At one point the DEC had a number of dismantled fire towers in storage- I think it was a combination of existing towers that were removed but the materials were kept in case they wanted to re-assemble them elsewhere, as well as spare pieces for repairs and the erection of brand new towers.

I know that there were tentative plans at one time to erect a fire tower at the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar, NY (just outside of Albany), but the plan never came to fruition.
I know Saranac Lake proposed to have one erected in their town. Speculator has submitted their plans to the APA to have Makomis erected there. The friends of Bramley are currently trying to raise $200,000 to restore their tower. I knew the owner of the dismantled Dairy Hill tower. He expressed he wanted to put it up, but it's been decades now. I met another who had intent to raise a tower, but all these people are getting too old, like silent generation age. That's what happened to Makomis and why it's being donated to Speculator. There's probably more out there somewhere.

A few are still on their operating location laying in pieces. I have seen one. I think Salt Hill/Nelson has a fallen tower. Tomany is the classic one. I know Prattsburg was taken down and left on site, but that exact location is never mentioned, which is private. It could have been removed by now for all we know.
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Old 04-07-2022, 04:57 PM   #12
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As far as I know, Rock Rift, Graham, Rosa Gap, Colfax, and Leonard Hill are all approachable but not climbable unless things have changed.
Updated these after finding recent photos online. If anyone sees anything else that isn't right, please let me know in this thread.

Still haven't found the precise location of Salmon Lake Mountain's unique Aermotor LX24 firetower on satellite maps. Old topo maps show the tower's location a little west of the summit.
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Old 04-07-2022, 05:29 PM   #13
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That one is very difficult. I have seen it's outline a few times on satellite. I have photos of it from a distance.

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Old 04-07-2022, 05:33 PM   #14
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That one is very difficult. I have seen it's outline a few times on satellite. I have photos of it from a distance. Here I will try to help
Yeah, it's like playing a game of Where's Waldo with that one!
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Old 04-07-2022, 05:40 PM   #15
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Yeah, it's like playing a game of Where's Waldo with that one!
I'm trying, but it's not working out to well. lol Someone at work showed me once.
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Old 04-07-2022, 05:47 PM   #16
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I'm trying, but it's not working out to well. lol Someone at work showed me once.
Do you remember if it's west of the summit like the topo maps show? I'm currently in Google Earth and the USGS Earth Explorer to see if I can find it there. Not the end of the world if we're unable to locate it. We gave it the old college try!
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Old 04-07-2022, 05:53 PM   #17
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I think this is it. The red circle barely shows the rails of the structure. The roof looks dilapidated. The coordinates are 43.963441, -74.645416 Google satellite. I could be wrong, see what you think.
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File Type: jpg Salmon Lake.jpg (87.8 KB, 46 views)
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Old 04-07-2022, 05:55 PM   #18
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I think this it
I was actually looking at that exact spot a few minutes ago and was like "Nah, that can't be it!" Maybe because it was on the opposite side of the summit area from where those topo maps labeled it. I'm going to move the marker there. Thanks for your help!
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Old 04-07-2022, 06:21 PM   #19
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Wow I see everyone is updating. A few years ago, all sources were missing towers. I know the Eastern Lookout site had odd balls that appeared to be misplaced, like Cherry Springs. It could be just overlap like with Alander. I'm glad the NYFFLA site has updated. That was my favorite. I wasn't aware Roosa Gap has opened. Thanks for sharing.

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Old 04-07-2022, 06:56 PM   #20
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Here's one on the WV/VA state line that I thought was interesting...
I'd live in that one...
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