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Looking Out: Maine's Fire Towers

Text by Candace Kanes

Images from Maine Forest Service

Maine has recorded many firsts in fire prevention, beginning with an 1891 law that created a state forest commissioner and local fire wardens.

Perhaps the most celebrated "first" was the construction in 1905 of a fire lookout tower on Squaw Mountain (now Moose Mountain) in Piscataquis County.

Maine's economic reliance on its forests and the need to protect that resource drove many of the fire prevention and detection activities in the state.

It was especially important to spot fires quickly and get firefighting crews to the scene early to minimize damage and hence loss to the industries that depended on Maine's trees, especially lumber and papermaking.

The most visible of these firefighting activities were the fire towers perched atop many mountains and hills. While most are no longer in use, some remain intact as a testimony to Maine's leadership in fire protection.

One tower, the Stockholm Mountain tower in Aroostook County, built in 1920, is on Maine Preservation's Most Endangered list. The town of Stockholm seeks to preserve it as part of a public walking area.