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Local News

August 29, 2013

Fire towers to be lighted with lanterns Saturday

Like huge fireflies dotting the Forest Preserve, eight Catskill fire towers will be lighted at 9 p.m. Saturday in a quiet tribute to the historic sites. 

The towers will be lighted by lanterns placed in the observation cabs. The lights will burn for about half an hour at the eight towers, including at Mount Utsayantha in Stamford and Hunter Mountain in Hunter, according to a media release from the Catskill Center in Arkville. 

“Whether you are visiting a tower or spotting one from a Catskill valley, you are surrounded by 300,000 acres of the Catskill Forest Preserve — a huge natural area protected by the State Constitution. When you see a light, you are looking back in time almost 100 years — a time when large Catskill hotels known as mountain houses still existed where many famous people spent the hot summer months avoiding the heat and summer diseases of New York City,” the release read.

The towers, erected in the 1900s in response to a series of devastating forest fires, were used to sight fires until the late 1970s. At that time, many of the towers fell into disrepair and were closed or removed. The fire towers that remain have been maintained by volunteers, who also open the towers to the public on weekends. 

According to Jonathan Mogelever, membership and outreach coordinator for the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, the idea to light the towers came from one of the volunteers with the Catskill Fire Tower Project. 

“One of the volunteer coordinators, Doug Hamilton, of Red Hill Fire Tower, thought this would be a fun idea,” Mogelever explained. Hamilton joined with coordinators from the other towers, and coordinated the event with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. 

“We made sure to have appropriate lanterns for lighting up the towers and coordinated the volunteers to open the towers for the upcoming evening,” Mogelever said. “We are looking very forward to the Fire Tower Lights and want to share this with the surrounding communities.”

The Catskill Center, in Arkville, works to protect the natural resources of the Catskill Mountains and to promote Catskill communities, according to its website.

For more information on the Fire Tower Lights, contact the Catskill Center at (845) 586-2611 or cccd@catskillcenter.org.

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