Mt. Beacon fire tower being restored
Sitting nearly 1,700 feet above sea level, the old Mt. Beacon fire tower and its stunning views will soon be open to the public. YNN's John Wagner has the story.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
DUTCHESS COUNTY, N.Y. -- "You have to preserve history. Once you remove them, they're gone," said David Rocco, Mt. beacon Fire Tower Restoration Project Manager.
Mt. Beacon's Fire Tower was last used to spot smoke and flames on state forests in 1975. Desk maps and triangulation devices targeted locations, before park rangers radioed for help, a modern system long before GPS or cell phones.
"It pointed some place across the river and it would point to a little needle on the map and it would give the coordinates of where that fire was," said Paul Gromkowski.
A victim of rust, vandalism and decay, it was nearly destroyed, but thanks to David Rocco and other volunteers, piece by piece, it's been brought back to life.
"Problem is we're not going to be building any more fire towers, but now we're experts at it," Rocco said.
Nearly a decade of planning and restoring resulted in a structurally sound tower, with the help of the Hudson Valley Four Wheelers Association needed to haul supplies up a treacherous path and National Guardsmen, a September completion date is expected, just in time for the Hudson River Valley Ramble.
Rocco said, "Our next steps now are to raise the handrails on the staircases, on the platforms, fence in those areas, paint the tower and then we're done."
To add to the historical element, the landings and top deck come off the old Poughkeepsie railroad bridge.
"It's pretty cool to have a piece of one Hudson Valley iconic structure and reuse it for another one," Rocco said.
There's three separate trails, each a bit challenging, that will take you to the fire tower. Ranging from about an hour and a half climb to four hours. It's quite the workout, but once you get to the top, it all pays off.
Rocco said, "I can't see any other fire tower that has the ability to see New York City skylines and Albany. It's magnificent."
To draw even more hikers, rebuilding the park ranger cabin as an education center sits in the planning stages
"It was a thriving tourist attraction and I'm absolutely certain that it will be again," said Gromkowski.