Restoring History

Fire Tower Restoration Project to become a public educational space at Grey Towers National Historic Site.

Built in 1921, Big Pocono Tower is typical of fire tower construction in Pennsylvania between 1914 and 1939. It was located in Big Pocono State Park atop Big Pocono Mountain adjacent to Camelback Ski Area.

The steel tower Aermotor Model LS 40 with 7’X7’ cab is 21 ft. tall.

In 2017, the tower was disassembled as part of Pennsylvania's plan to upgrade its fire tower network.

The first step was the restoration of the fire tower cab, which was disassembled during the summer of 2018 and reassembled during the summer of 2019. The Cab was scraped primed and painted with a final coat of paint similar to the original color. Windows were salvaged from another fire tower of like construction, windows were restored and installed. The interior was completely removed, and new flooring and siding installed. A new roof was purchased and installed based on the original Aermotor design.

During the summer of 2021 we plan to place the fire tower in the vicinity of the Forest Discovery Trail, construct a new foundation, rebuild the tower scaffolding and stairs, pour concrete footings and attach the cab to the tower structure.

Fire Tower dismantle

Fire lookouts are getting hard to spot

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

As the Pennsylvania commissioner of forestry in 1921, Gifford Pinchot accessed $1 million, the largest appropriation for forest protection at the time. Part of that money was used to buy 50 fire towers. Most were erected in 1923, the year Mr. Pinchot became governor. These towers were sometimes called "Pinchot towers," Mr. Cummings said, because Mr. Pinchot signed the order for them (Steve Cummings, Forest Fire Lookout Association).

 

Gifford Pinchot

Current Reconstruction Plans

The tower was relocated to Grey Towers National Historic Site, the home of Forester and Gov. Gifford Pinchot, where it will be refurbished and re-erected.

In the coming months the US Forest Service and other partners plan to reconstruct the Big Pocono Tower at a site at Grey Towers.

Proposals under consideration include development of educational panels describing the USFS fire program, it’s history, Gifford’s role, and fire suppression and management today.

Click the plan image to enlarge.

In the photo see Forest Service volunteers Bill Arlequeeuw of Milford and Ed Braniff of Hemlock Farms work to renovate the historic fire tower at Grey Towers.