Stillwater Fire Tower: Volunteers join DEC in restoration effort

IMG_4495The Stillwater Fire Tower, which has been shut down since 1988, is about to undergo a restoration through a partnership with New York State DEC and the newly-revived volunteer organization, Friends of Stillwater Fire Tower.

A similar effort to restore the fire tower that was begun solely by the Friends group in 2009 lost momentum, but due to the new partnership most of the materials to complete the restoration will be provided by DEC.

DEC will purchase such materials as pressure treated lumber, galvanized hardware, safety fencing and paint. 

The FSFT volunteers will supply most of the tools and equipment, including portable generators, sawzalls, safety harnesses and tarps.

Businesses have donated lumber, guy-wire cable, and specialty tools.

Volunteers will replace all steps and landings, the floor and windows of the 1919 cab, and much of the hardware and safety fencing on the eight staircases.

A newly-designed railing and door to the cab will keep the public safe.

The entire 47-foot tower and cab will be scraped, wire-brushed and painted, and concrete piers repaired.

Once the restoration is completed, NYS DEC will install a solar powered radio repeater/ transmitter on the tower.

Calls for emergency services will be available like never before to residents, snowmobilers in the Independence River Wild Forest, on Stillwater Reservoir, the Town of Webb snowmobile trails, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad corridor; to campers, fishermen, boaters, and hikers in the Five Ponds, Pepperbox, and Pigeon Lake Wildnerness, and in cellphone dead zones on the Stillwater and Big Moose Roads.

If all goes as planned, the tower will be open to the public in the summer of 2016.

To date, the pool of volunteers range from Boy Scout troops to senior citizens living in Herkimer, Lewis and Jefferson counties, as well as from across the state, Massachusetts and Virginia. But more volunteers are needed.

Upcoming work days are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, September 26 and 27 and October 3 and 4 beginning at 9 a.m. Anyone interested in joining the effort can email:, or like Friends of Stillwater Fire Tower on Facebook to be added to the mailing list.

To access Stillwater Mountain, take the approximately one-mile hike from the Big Moose Road.

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