Massachusetts Fire Towers
Mount Washington Tower

Alander Tower in 1929
(photo courtesy Bill Starr)

Town: Mount Washington
County: Berkshire
Mountain or Hill: Alander Mountain
Height above sea level: 2239 FT
Tower Structure Height: 60 FT
Latitude: 42-05-33
Longitude: 73-30-16
First date of operation: 1928
Type: Steel Tower



Other Photos

Watchman's Cabin in 2005 (1)

Watchman's Cabin in 2005 (2)

Watchman's Cabin in 2005 (3)

Watchman's Cabin in 2005 (4)

Watchman's Cabin in 2005 (5)

Cabin Interior in 2005 (1)

Cabin Interior in 2005 (2)

Old Stair Footings in 2005

Footing Closeups in 2005 (1)

Footing Closeups in 2005 (2)

Footings from Afar (2005)



  • This New York tower was staffed until 1930
  • The tower site is only about 1/5 of a mile from the New York Border.
  • The tower was dismantled in 1930 and stored at the Taconic State Park.
  • In 1933, the tower was re-erected on Washburn Mountain in Copake Falls, NY where it was operated by the Park until the New York DEC assumed control of the tower operation in 1935.
  • The tower on Washburn operated until 1963 before it was moved again to Beebe Hill where it still stands today.
  • Although inside of Massachusetts borders, this tower was run by the New York State DEC
  • The tower is long gone, but 4 footings remain at the site in 2005.
  • The original Watchman's Cabin is still on site and is being used as a campsite for the Mount Washington State Forest. The cabin is in poor shape in 2005.

History of the Beebe Hill fire tower

In 1928 the Taconic State Park Commission, N.Y. purchased a fire tower to protect park lands with a means to detect wild fires in the early stages. Ironically the best site for the fire tower to be erected on was slightly over the state line in Massachusetts on Alander Mtn., locally pronounced A-Lander Mtn.

The site and surrounding forest was owned by Frederick K. Miles of Mt. Washington, Massachusetts. Mr. Miles utilized the trees from his forest in his business of making charcoal. The person who staffed the fire tower for the park was Mervin Whitbeck, also a resident of Mt. Washington and employee of Mr. Miles.

During a dry period in 1930 the fire tower should had been manned, but wasn't, for some unknown reason. A wild fire erupted and burned a large portion of Mr. Miles' forest land. Upon extinguishing the fire Mr. Miles instructed the park to remove the fire tower immediately. By the end of the year all of the fire tower pieces were dismantled and removed from the site.

The park stored the tower, in pieces, at there High Falls headquarters. In 1932 the park secured an agreement with the Masters family of Copake Falls, NY to re-erect the fire tower on their land at the summit of Washburn Mtn. The fire tower was up and running for the 1933 fire season. In an agreement the tower would cooperate with the Bureau of Forest Fire Control (FFC) by reporting smokes to them that occurred outside of the park. In 1935 control and operation of the Washburn Mtn. fire tower was turned over to FFC. The tower remained in operation up through the 1963 fire season. At that time a crew of Conservation Dept. labors and Forest Ranger Stan Engle dismantled the fire tower and arranged to have the pieces transported to the Beebe Hill site via helicopter.

Work began immediately to re-erected the tower on Beebe Hill. The crew worked through November of 1963 to get the tower built and finishing towers of the construction was completed by April of 1964. The Beebe Hill facility operated up through the 1987 fire season when it was then decommissioned.

A picture of the fire tower on Alander Mtn. had eluded me for twenty years. Recently I received word from FFLA-Mass member Bill Cobb about the Mt. Washington Historical Commission. And with the tireless efforts of Lesliann Furcht the attached picture of the Alander Mtn with Mervin Whitbeck stand on a land was discover. Mrs. Betsy Garrett, daughter of Mervin Whitbeck kindly provide a copy of this picture. Lastly.....our heart felt thanks go out to Taconic State Park Historian Melissa Miller for traveling to the Mt. Washington, Mass. town hall to pick up this picture. Without Melissa this photo would not be coming your way so soon.

History Courtesy of Bill Starr, former Director - Forest Fire Lookout Assoc.- NY Division



Beebe Hill Tower in 2016
(photo courtesy Jack Kelley)
Beebe Hill Watchman's Camp in 2016
(photo courtesy Jack Kelley)
Beebe Hill Stair and Cab in 2016
(photo courtesy Jack Kelley)
Beebe Hill view in 2016
(photo courtesy Jack Kelley)
Beebe Hill Cab in 2016
(photo courtesy Jack Kelley)







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