June 25, 2012
Dan Keefe, (518) 486-1868
Tower listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places
Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey today welcomed visitors to the newly restored Dickinson Hill Fire Tower in Grafton Lakes State Park and thanked the Friends of Grafton Lakes and the New York State Police for their partnership in making the recreational attraction accessible to the public.
"The Dickinson Hill Fire Tower is a phenomenal vantage point to take in the panoramic views of the Adirondacks, Green Mountains and Taconic Range," said Harvey. "I'm certain this historic tower will attract dedicated trekkers to our beautiful park and help introduce park visitors to the rewards of hiking. I'm grateful to our partners, the Friends of Grafton Lakes and the State Police for helping make a long-awaited project a reality."
The volunteer Friends of Grafton Lake spearheaded the restoration of the 60-foot tower. Under the leadership of Dick Gibbs, chair of the Friends of Grafton Lakes tower restoration project, the tower was largely rehabbed with volunteer labor and donated materials. Volunteer crews replaced all the wood steps and flooring in the cab, sourced and replaced all the X-bracing, completed major repairs to the cab and painted the entire structure. The fire tower is a 1.5 mile hike from the parking area at the end of North Long Pond Road.
Dick Gibbs said, "The Tower, a hidden treasure on the Rensselaer Plateau, has for decades provided visitors with unparalleled vistas of the region's natural beauty. The tower was perilously close to being lost. Now this historic site will be open to the public thanks to the dedicated volunteers and the Friends of Grafton Lakes State Park."
Harvey presented certificates to the partners recognizing the tower's recent listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The Dickinson Hill fire tower was erected and placed into service in 1924 through a cooperative effort between the state and the City of Troy to prevent fires in the woodlands surrounding city's water supply. The fire tower remained in service full-time until November of 1972. The Dickinson Hill Fire Tower is one of 102 fire towers erected by New York State. About half of these survive.
After its retirement from service as an observation tower, it was used to support two-way radio equipment for the State Police. State Police transferred jurisdiction of the tower to State Parks in 2010 to enable its conversion to a hiking destination.
New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico said, "The Grafton Fire tower provides a unique opportunity for the New York State Police to balance its need to maintain the security of an important public safety communications facility while assisting State Parks in achieving its mission of providing public access to this scenic location with great historical significance. We look forward to successfully maintaining this balance with the assistance of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation, the Friends of Grafton and the many visitors this site will attract."
The fire tower restoration caps a number of revitalization projects taking place in Grafton Lakes State Park. Under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's comprehensive New York Works initiative, the state is investing $89 million, leveraging $143 million in total funding, to rehabilitate state parks and historic sites in every region of the state. At Grafton Lakes, the agency has completed a $164,000 comfort station rehabilitation project in the Deerfield Pavilion Area. The total renovation was the first upgrade to the building since it was constructed in 1974. In addition, park roads will be repaved and the Mill Pond Dam will be repaired and reinforced with additional New York Works funding.
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 178 state parks and 35 historic sites. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com, connecting on Facebook, or following us on Twitter.