All Along the Watchtower

6 thoughts on “All Along the Watchtower”

  1. I was thinking of those same light house/lookout tower parallels as I was writing this. Both are lonely jobs, etc. Of course, there is also the tower aspect.

    Lookout towers tend not to be as photogenic as lighthouses, but to me they are every bit as interesting.

  2. This is what I get when I read the top of the page/the most recent entry first. I missed all this background.

    Ok, now I’m convinced that YOU should write a guide on SC lookout towers!

  3. I’m flattered, especially with such high praise coming from a book vendor such as yourself, Laura. I might just have to write that book. We’ll see.

  4. Two years ago I was driving from Columbia, SC to Athens, GA along back roads and came across the most amazing fire tower. You could climb to the top, and up there were old log books. I would love to go back, but I don’t know where it was exactly, and I’m hoping you can help me.

    Based on the firelookout.org site and the route we most likely took, it seems there are firetowers in both Leesville and Saluda. The one we climbed was right on the road – we were literally driving by. I also have a photo of it, if that may help you identify it. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  5. I’m retired from the SC Forestry Commission (2000 – with 34 years of service) and I have some insights.
    I agree with your artistic and nostalgic remarks. Although I did not climb them all, I had a “life list” and I ran to the top of everyone I ever visited. (And that was at least 50+.)
    There was a need to place them on a prominence, but due to the flatness of the land they generally had to be 100′ tall to put them above the trees.
    I spent two summers with the Forest Service in Washington state in the 60’s, and there the towers would be on mountain tops or ridges, but as short as 20′. They were 20′ x 20′ living spaces with a catwalk all around. (Not a place you want to be in a thunder storm.) Storms could be frequent, and the tower operator had a small stool with glass insulators on the bottom of each leg. The operator sat on the stool until the storm passed.
    I helped build the last tower in South Carolina. It was Smith Tower in Lexington County, and it was the first tower removed. A great memory. It was pre-OSHA, with minimal safety gear – like monkeys on a frame. Homer Cook was the Ranger and he fed us Good.
    As District Forester in Newberry, SC in the early 80’s, I was responsible for buying Big Knob Tower site. A thing I was most proud of. Prior to that, the Commission relied on the generosity of local landowners to provide tower sites.
    Everyone doesn’t see the same thing. About 30 years ago as a member of the SC Public Relations Society, a group of us were riding from Hilton Head to Savannah. As we passed a tower, I remarked that “there was the most visible symbol” of the SC Forestry Commission. They didn’t know what I was talking about.
    Thank you for this chance to reminisce and share. Rhett Bickley cell (803)622-2074

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