Congratulations and a big thank-you to the members and volunteers of the Mt. Beacon Fire Tower Restoration Committee. On Saturday, June 22, this group celebrated completion of the restoration of this historic fire tower in the Hudson Highlands. Several Trail Conference-maintained trails are in the vicinity, and getting to the tower is a favorite hike for many people, since it is accessible from the city of Beacon and, with a 1.5-mile walk, from the Metro-North train station in town. (Click here for details about a hike from the train station to the tower.)
Fire towers are popular hiking destinations and this project is sure to attract additional visitors to this increasingly tourist-oriented region. The information below was provided by committee member David Rocco.
About the Mt. Beacon Fire Tower
The Mt. Beacon Fire Tower, listed on both the NY State and National Registry for Historic Places and the National Historic Look Out Register, was one of several erected by NY State to protect state owned forest lands in the early 20th century. Since its completion in 1931 till the end of the 1972 fire season, the Mt. Beacon Fire tower was operated by the NY State Bureau of Forest Fire Control, at which time it was taken out of service. It was briefly put back into service before being decommissioned permanently in 1975, as the role of fire observation was being assumed by aircraft.
The Mt. Beacon Fire Tower is located on the summit of South Beacon Mountain, the southernmost peak of the two peaks that form Mt. Beacon, in the Hudson Highland region of Dutchess County, NY. The south peak of Mt. Beacon is 1650 feet above sea level. The Mt. Beacon Fire Tower is a 60’ high Aermotor model steel observation tower, model LS – 40, erected in 1931 and placed in service in 1932.
The galvanized and bolted steel frame supports a seven-by -even foot steel observation cabin. The structure is a four-post, steel frame type and was fabricated by the Aermotor Windmill Company, originally of Chicago and later Oklahoma. The four legs of the derrick-like tower are anchored by steel plates into poured concrete footings. Originally, wooden stairs and wooden landings provided access to the observation cabin from the ground. The observer’s cabin likewise had wooden flooring, as well as a metal hipped roof.
Interest in preserving and restoring the Mt. Beacon Fire Tower for recreational use originated in 2003. A group of local and regional citizens formed the Mt. Beacon Fire Tower Restoration Committee, which has worked on the restoration since then, including repairing the tower’s footings and replacing the steps and stair landings with steel material as opposed to the original wood product.
As a historical point of interest, the platform landing steel grates now on the Mt. Beacon Fire Tower were obtained from the Walkway Over the Hudson / Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge renovation project–one restoration effort benefiting another.