Mt Adams Fire Tower

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ADK Highpeaks Foundation and Mt. Adams

In 2010 The ADK Highpeaks Foundation was approached concerning the restoration of the fire tower on Mt. Adams located in Newcomb, NY. It had fallen into disrepair and as a safety hazard closed to the public. After visiting the site, we discovered that indeed a lot of work would need to be done. The roof had been torn off by the strong winds on that mountain, stair steps had rotted and needed replacing, almost all the railing and fencing were no longer attached at least one major concrete footer needed to be replaced along with other elements to repair or replace. However, also taken into account in the decision process would be the extraordinary view that could only be gained by climbing at least part way up as the area around the base of the tower is completely treed even though it had been totally clearcut when the current Aeromotor LS-40 47’ Fire Tower was erected in 1917.

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After consultation with members and volunteers offering to lend a hand, the Foundation appropriated $5,000 to begin purchasing the tools, supplies, services and materials needed to take on a project of this magnitude. One of the first project day was to replace over 40 of the stair steps on the tower. This required volunteers to pack and carry 4 or more 2”x10”x 24” pre-cut treated lumber to the summit. Those who have hiked this trail are aware of the steepness especially the last half mile where one gains 1,000 feet of elevation in just a half mile. In other words, just when you think the trail couldn’t get any more difficult…it does. Each of those sections of wood weighed approximately 10 pounds making for some very tired volunteers up top. That was the beginning of many more excursions up that mountain with lots of heavy things over the next three years of restoration.

Additional Past, Present and Future Projects

The first three years of restoration involved dozens of wonderful volunteers who provided well honed skillsets such as engineering, metal fabrication and structural integrity as well as so many more who were more than happy to help carry materials, tools, paint, fence, railings, and even 300 pounds of concrete to the summit. Over one winter we had the benefit of three individuals who took exact measurements, procured the sheet metal, create a new more wind resistant roof, and fabricate the entire new roof off site. The following summer the roof was dis-assembled, crated and brought near site so it could be air lifted to the top of the mountain to be installed. We were blessed with a beautiful day with little to no wind which certainly made the job just a little easier.

There are so many stories to tell about those first three restoration years and the maintenance years since but what made those first a bit more challenging was 2011. That spring the entire area experienced flooding not experienced in over a hundred years. It had been a very deep snowpack over the winter and heavy rains over a three day period causing massive flooding and damage from raging rivers and streams. The steel cable bridge that crosses the Hudson River was destroyed. That meant for the entire restoration volunteers had to ford the river with packs and materials in often very cold fast water. Despite the challenges the projects kept getting done. The tower had new stairs, railings, fencing and footer. The Cab had a new roof and floor, the window frames were repaired or replaced, a new safety wall around the hatch entrance built, the map table repaired, and a duplicate of the original hand drawn map from 1923 placed in the center.

Several volunteers assist every year since in maintaining the trail and tower and we are extremely grateful for them. Every person involved in this endeavor do so out of the kindness of their hearts and often the literally strength of their convictions. We look forward to continuing to maintain this historical landmark and the remembrance of all those who manned these towers to protect the Adirondacks from the devastating effects of forest fires. We have plans to provide more information though interpretive signing and possibly having Fire Tower Stewards both paid and volunteer in the upcoming years.

Please support our efforts by donating to the ADK Highpeaks Foundation.