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History of the Fire Tower

History of the Fire Tower

History of the Fire Tower

Fire Tower Color Photo
Fire Tower Flying American Flag

August 24, 1933:   “During the past week several men who are attached to the Boston Corners camp of the Conservation commission have been at work on Stissing Mountain here at Pine Plains.  The preliminary work of road building to the fire tower which is to be erected on the top of the highest peak has started.  The pinnacle is 1400 feet above sea level of nearly 1000 feet above the level of Stissing Lake, which is at the base of the mountain.”   (The Register-Herald)

December 14, 1933:   “Work on the fire observation tower on big Stissing mountain is progressing rapidly and will be completed within the next few weeks.  The trail to the tower has been opened and graded, also poles set for a telephone line.
The walk up the mountain is real uphill work, but when one reaches the summit, a worthwhile view comes into sight, the countryside for miles around is visible.  With the aid of glasses, it is hard to estimate the number of miles distance to be seen from this point.
When the work is completed, a ranger will be appointed to take up the work at this station.  It is rumored that this appointment will be a political one.”   (The Register-Herald)

January 25, 1934:   “The eighty foot International Stacy steel tower located on Big Stissing, at an alitude of 1440 feet above sea level.  This completed the entire fire detection system for Durches county.  This tower will work in cooperation with the towers located on Mt. Beacon and Clove Mountain.
​      A gift from the Civilian Conservation Corps to the Conservation Department as a project for the C.C.C. camps.  Construction began on this tower on November 15th, and in spite of the extreme cold weather and considerable high winds, the boys from C.C.C. camp No., 1, located at Boston Corners, worked faithful throughout the winter in order that it might be completed in record time.
Permission for a right of way were given by Victor C. Jordan and Mrs. Kate Stuggard.  It was necessary to build about two and one-half miles from the Stissing Lake road to the summit of Stissing Mountain, and about 3- miles of telephone line from the tower to the village.  These projects were completely carried out out by the C.C.C. men.
Humphrey Hedgecock, District Forest Ranger has supervision of the work.  The C.C.C. men were transported from Boston Corners to the work every day by trucks.”   (The Register-Herald)

no date:   “Clayton E. Hart has received the appointment of Forest Ranger, to be stationed at Stissing Mountain.  He received his appointment last Thursday from Lithgow Osborne, Conservation Department Commissioner, Division of Lands and Forests.  Mr. Hart will be stationed at the fire tower from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, with the exception of rainy weather.  The appointment will cover from seven to nine months each year depending on the weather conditions.
A telephone line has been installed by the CCC boys of Boston Corners to the fire tower from the local office of the Copake Telephone company.  Maps and charts of this section have been placed in the tower and plans are under way for a cabin to be built near the tower in the near future.  Mr. Hart will receive his instructions from H.F. Hedgecock, district manager.”   (Register Herald)

May 2, 1935:   “The local Forest Ranger, Clayton C. Hart, reported 14 grass and forest fires during the week from April 25 until the present time.  The following day, April 26, he reported 8 fires.  Mr. Hart reported that an average of 30 visitors a week had climbed the mountain to the fire tower during the past several weeks.”   (The Register-Herald)

August 12, 1937:   “Last Saturday afternoon, ‘The Pines’ a show place in this village, owned by L.D. Smith was struck by lightning.  The bolt struck the cupola on the roof and at that time, Mr. Smith went out in the yard and could discover nothing amiss.  However about one half hour later, smoke was seen arising by Observer Hart, who was on duty in the Stissing Mountain fire tower, and he sent in the alarm.  The damage was confined to the cupola, where the timbers under the slate roof were smoldering.
Considerable damage was done to the residence when a two inch hose that had been taken up through the hallway broke on the second floor, flooding the hall.”   (The Register-Herald)

April 7, 1938:   “Theodore Douglass is now at the fire tower as his duties are now going on into the second week of watching the various grass fires and brush fires in the surrounding country.”   (The Register-Herald)

​April 10, 1941: 
  “George C. Will returned to his duties at the fire observation tower on Stissing mountain last Friday.  The tower was closed for the winter months last fall and was opened on order of Humphrey F. Hedgecock, district ranger of the state Conservation department.  The tower will remain open during the summer and fall.
The normal spring fire hazard is quite serious this spring, as the grass and brush are well dried out with the high winds.”   (The Register-Herald)

​April 2, 1942:
   “George Will has been on duty since the beginning of the war but must take up his regular job at the fire tower beginning April 4.”   (The Register-Herald)

November 4, 1943:   “George Will finishes season at fire tower, Stissing Mountain.”   (The Register-Herald)

April 20, 1944:   “George Will, who is now on duty at the fire tower on Stissing Mountain, is on the alert and can check on any fire immediately if it gets out of hand.  Everyone’s co-operation in this matter will find it to his own advantage.”   (The Register-Herald)

​November 16, 1944:
   “If the person, who is known, who removed a pair of binoculars from the Stissing Fire Tower returns same he will not be prosecuted, otherwise he will.  George C. Will, Observer.”   (The Register-Herald)

May 17, 1945:   “George Will, attendant at the fire tower on Stissing Mountain, reported the telephone receiver was stolen from the tower.  He believes the theft may have occurred last week Wednesday night.  Because of the heavy rains he was not on duty Thursday.  The telephone box was not taken.
The taking of this equipment is a very serious offense.  It might have caused serious trouble if a fire had occurred anywhere in the large territory under Mr. Will’s supervision and he had been unable to report it immediately.  Fortunately this year, possibly due to rainy weather, there have been but four fires to report.  Up until this time last year there were 26.
This has not been the first time a theft has occurred at the tower.  Last November a telescope was taken.  As Mr. Will is responsible for the equipment he was assessed $35 for the loss.  No trace has ever been found of this theft.
An investigation is being conducted and the party, if caught, may be dealt with severely.  Scarcity of telephone instruments could hold up replacement, tho Mr. Ackley of the Copake Telephone company was able to provide one by Monday.”   (The Register-Herald)

April 7, 1949: 
  “James Green took over his duties for the season at the Stissing Mountain fire tower on April first.  If burning over large areas or when a good deal of smoke results, Mr. Green should be notified so that he can watch over it a quickly notify the fire company if it gets out of hand.”   (The Register-Herald)

April 7, 1955:   “The fire tower on Stissing mountain is now being manned by Mr. Green, as of April 1.”   (The Register-Herald)

​May 3, 1956:
   “Ranger James Green, of Amenia, is on duty at the Stissing Mountain fire tower, for his eleventh year of service here.
Mr. Green urges area residents to use caution in burning brush and papers.”   (The Register-Herald)

April 18, 1957:   “James Green is already on duty for the season at the fire tower on Stissing mountain and he will be informed so that he can watch if the fires do get out of hand.  However, when doing any sizeable burning job the law requires that enough men are at hand to keep it under control.”   (The Register-Herald)

​October 13, 1960:
   “Area residents are cautioned to be especially careful at this time, with fires of any kind.  Fire Chief James Byrnes reports that James Green, who for many years has been fire warden and stationed at the Stissing Mountain fire tower, has been transferred to Clove Valley.  A man to fill the position of Mr. Greene here, has not been secured.  Mr. Greene has informed Mr. Byrnes that on a recent trip to his old stand he found evidence of picnic fires and this is forbidden.  Anyone found to be responsible for fires there will be prosecuted.”   (The Register-Herald)

April 6, 1961:   “James Greene of Amenia has been stationed on the Stissing Mt. Fire tower for many years.  He started his 16th year on March 23.”   (The Register-Herald)

October 24, 1963:   “James Greene continues his post at the Stissing Mt. fire tower during this dry weather and ban on fires continues.  He keeps fire companies informed.”   (The Register-Herald)

​August 11, 1966:
   “We understand Mr. Green of the Stissing Mountain fire tower, alerted the fire tower near Falls Village for a fire on Canaan Mt.  It was very fortunate that this was discovered as it was an underground fire and could have gotten a greater start.”   (The Register-Herald)

April 6, 1967: 
  “James Greene is again at the Pine Plains fire tower, starting his season’s duties March 31st.”   (The Register-Herald)

​May 7, 1971:  “The State Department of Environmental Conservation, faced with the state economic problems and the introduction of an aerial fire detection system, has closed the Stissing Mountain observation tower here. The tower, one of the tallest fire detection structures in the state, was shut down for at least a year, following ‘a one-day notice,’ according to Craig W. Knickerbocker, district forest ranger.”  (Berkshire Eagle – Mass.)

November 15, 1973:   “Gerry Traver is an observer for the State Department of Environmental Conservation stationed at the Stissing Mountain tower.  The tower was reactivated in July of this year and it commands a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.

In the time since the Stissing tower was closed there has been considerable damage caused by unknown people visiting the top of the peak.  A cabin at the tower’s base had been broken into.  Floor joists under the porch had been chopped at, windows were broken and boards had been ripped off.  Someone had also broken into the tower observatory.  The old door had been chopped through and floor boards were cut.  Only recently the observer’s out house was pushed off its foundation.  Since the station was opened, Observer Traver and District Ranger Richard Swanson have kept close watch on the station.”   (The Register-Herald)