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Continued: Where towers once stood: Remembering Minnesota's majestic fire towers

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 12, 2013 - 7:19 PM

In some of those states, writers Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder and Norman Maclean once served as lookouts, perhaps scanning the horizon as much for inspiration as smoke.

Now, courtesy the Forest Service, vacationers can “camp out’’ in some of the same towers, reducing to mere playtime what once was critically important, a not uncommon American tradition itself worthy of literature.

Yet whatever the number of remaining smoke spotters, and wherever their stations, they’ll likely work 1,000 fire seasons before encountering what Karoline Monson encountered at the top of her tower:

A bear.

“I hollered to God,’’ she said.

 

Dennis Anderson • 612-673-4424

 







 

  • related content

  • This vintage photo shows the Chippewa National Forest headquarters in Cass Lake, Minn. Its redwood fire tower was dismantled and removed in the late 1940s, although the original building survives.

  • Reaching 65 feet high, and providing excellent views of the fairgrounds, the DNR State Fair fire tower is the best known in the state. Only a dozen or so fire towers remain in Minnesota.

  • If possible, locations of fires spotted from fire towers were triangulated, using sightings from three towers, so that crews could be directed to the fires' exact locations.

  • Also at the fair, this panoramic photo re-created the view from atop a fire tower in northern Minnesota.

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