by Doug La Rocque
In 2010 an agreement was reached between the NYS Police and the State Office of Parks and Recreation to take control of the only remaining fire tower in Rensselaer County, and work was begun on restoring the historic structure. This past Saturday, the last piece of that project, the interpretive trail to the Tower, complete with many new kiosks was officially opened. These kiosks were installed to provide historical and cultural information on the area to the general public, as they make their way up to the now totally refurbished piece of history.
The tower was first erected and placed into service in 1924 on what is the northern slope of the Rensselaer Plateau. From the fire watchers station atop the structure, one has a view of Mt. Marcy and the Adirondack High Peaks, the Green Mountains of Vermont, the Taconic Range and the Helderbergs.
The tower is accessible by hiking from the parking lot at the end of North Long Pond Road in Grafton. There is no parking or vehicular access to the tower. In 2011, the Tower was placed on the New York State Register of Historic Places, and accepted for nomination to the National Registry as well.
The late Helen Ellett of Grafton was one of the first women to become a NYS Fire Observer and spent many years working there. Her story is told in a book entitled I Remember When: The Untold Story of Helen Ellett.Interpretive Trail To Dickinson Fire Tower Is Opened