Safety with a view: NH fire towers in the spotlight during Preservation Month

May 04. 2018 7:57PM

Now that spring is here and you're ready to get outside, why not try a hike to one of New Hampshire's 16 forest-fire lookout towers?

The state Division of Historical Resources is heading outside for this year's "May is Preservation Month" celebration, highlighting the state's tradition of forest fire protection and encouraging visits to New Hampshire's historic fire towers.

Throughout May, follow the NHDHR's Twitter account, @nhdhr_shpo, to learn about New Hampshire's fire tower history and to see some of the towers you can visit. The Division is also encouraging everyone who visits a tower to share their photos on social media and to include the hashtag #MyNewHampshire.

Fire tower fans can also post pictures of themselves at the towers on "My New Hampshire," the NHDHR's photosharing website that showcases favorite historic places across the state. "My New Hampshire" is smartphone friendly and can be accessed from the NHDHR's website,

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New Hampshire's first fire tower was built in Croydon around 1903. Early fire towers could be as simple as a platform built in a tree, but as the need for more stable structures increased, engineered wooden towers were built. They were replaced by the steel towers still standing across the state today. The towers are topped by cabs with 360-degree views.

Many of the current towers were built in the 1920s and 1930s, when forest fires were frequently started by train embers or smoking materials. Watchmen often lived in cabins near the base of their towers and would telephone for help if they saw smoke nearby.

There are 15 state-owned fire towers in New Hampshire, from as far north as Magalloway Mountain in Pittsburg through the Great North Woods and south into the Monadnock, Lakes and Merrimack Valley regions. Some are accessible by auto road and others present challenging hikes through rough terrain.

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Anyone visiting five or more towers can receive a Tower Quest patch through the N.H. Division of Forests and Lands. For a brochure with more information, including driving directions, visit

For more information, on Preservation Month, visit or call 271-3483.

EnvironmentOutdoorsPublic SafetyFiresHistoryHikingNewHampshire.comPhoto Feature

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