Monday, June 19, 2017

The Anchor Hill Fire Tower

Reader J. Hultquist submitted this photograph of the Anchor Hill tower. The photograph hung in her parents home.

courtesy J Hultquist

courtesy J Hultquist

This appears to be the second tower at the site which was probably erected in 1952 and was an 80 foot ladder tower 1. The photograph looks to be from the 1960s when people had access to color film and processing. The last survey report from 1965 indicated the tower was standing.

That truck track is still there:


Thinking about the build date and tower style it seems to me that this tower likely stood at a different location originally. In 1952 the forest service may have had a number of these ladder towers in inventory after being replaced by stairway towers during the CCC era. The Bankton (1958) and Linder (1953) towers, for example, were probably relocated from their original sites.

1 Information from a DNR tower list believed to be from the 1960s.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Have tower, will travel. Can you help fill in the blanks?

Forest Service employees were skilled at erecting towers and some became skilled at disassembling and moving towers. I  suspect the record would indicate more tower relocations than what is noted below.


  • Forestry Headquarters    Aiton Heights (standing)
  • Pine Island # 1  → West Pine Island  → Dentaybow
  • Remer #1  →  Blueberry Hill #2
  • ______  →  Bunker Prairie/Anoka
  • ______ (Warman?)  →  Cambridge (standing)
  • Waskish #1  →  Cuyuna #1 or Turner site
  • ______  →  Elephant Lake (standing)
  • Grand Marais  →  Eliason
  • Ely  →  ______
  • Steamboat  →  Farris
  • ______ (Morrison County?) →  Molde (standing)
  • Boy River  →  Hillview
  • Littlefork  →  Happyland
  • ______  →  Linder (standing)
  • Rail Prairie  →  Motley
  • Peet  →  Prosper (standing)
  • ______  →  Sand Dunes (standing)
  • ______  →  Shoepack 

Dave Quam video


  • Pinewood  →  Beltrami County Fairgrounds
  • Bemidji  →  Wilderness
  • Boulder Hill  →  Forest History Center
  • Isle Harbor/Wahkon  →  Mille Lacs Kathio SP
  • Pine Island #2  →  Big Bog SRA

The Carlos Avery, Stony Ridge, and Woodland towers were  purchased by individuals and relocated to the Linwood area of Anoka County. The second Waskish tower was purchased and relocated to a site near Bemidji. The Cotton and Lawson towers are likely privately owned now and at last check were still at their original site. The Shoepack tower was purchased and awaits restoration.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Cambridge tower


The Cambridge tower was moved to its present site in 1955 from Kanabec County1. The tower dates to 1926. The Pomroy (1963) and Woodland (1955) towers, both stairway towers, were previously thought to be the only towers in Kanabec County. 

An alphabetical inventory of existing towers attached to a memo of the Department of Conservation dated February 16, 1939 lists a Warman tower, number 112, located at SW SW 17 42 23. Which is also where the Woodland tower was located. The Warman tower was an earlier tower at the site of the Woodland tower and can be counted as a third Kanabec County tower.


The Cambridge tower may have started out as the Warman tower. The tower in Cambridge was moved to that location in 1955, the year the Woodland tower was erected. The build date of 1926 places the Cambridge (Warman) tower as a contemporary of the Smoky Hills, Elephant Lake, Ash River, and other early octagonal cab towers. These are the oldest remaining towers in Minnesota.

1  Susan Granger, & Scott Kelly. (2016). Fire Lookout Towers in Minnesota, 1910-1970: Historic Context Information (p. 12.3). Morris, Minnesota: Gemini Research.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Forestry Headquarters Tower

The Itasca State Park Aiton Heights tower was originally located near the park headquarters and was referred to as the Forestry Headquarters tower. The park at that time was managed by the Minnesota Forest Service.

Contemporary maps noted "NEW M.F.S. TOWER - 110 FT HIGH"

This undated postcard shows folks having fun climbing the tower.

(personal collection)