Tower in 1929
(photo courtesy Bill Starr)
Town: Mount Washington
Mountain or Hill: Alander Mountain
above sea level: 2239 FT
Tower Structure Height: 60 FT
First date of operation: 1928
Type: Steel Tower
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
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.
Courtesy of Bill Starr, former Director - Forest Fire Lookout Assoc.- NY Division