Dickinson Hill Fire Tower
US 377, NY 22
May 2016 photo by Jack Kelley

May 2016 photo by Jack Kelley

Lookout Details

Registry Numbers US 377, NY 22 (view other lookouts in United States, New York)
Date Registered May 7, 2001
Nominated by Friends of Grafton Lakes State Park, Inc.
Location Rensselaer County, New York
Coordinates N 42° 47.598' W 073° 24.864' (view using Google Maps)
N 42° 47' 36" W 073° 24' 52"
N 42.793300° W 073.414400°
Elevation 1,760 ft (536 m)
Administered by New York State Police
Cooperators Friends of Grafton Lakes State Park

Description

Constructed in 1924 by the State of New York and last used for fire detection in the 1980s, Dickinson Hill Fire Tower is a 60' Aermotor LS-40 with 7' x 7' metal cab. During World War II it was used by the Aircraft Warning Service and in the 1970s was the site of communication experiments by the U.S. Navy.

Additional information courtesy of Bill Starr, NHLR State Registrar: "A group from the Grafton Lake, N.Y. area has formed to adopt and restore this fire tower. Currently the facility is owned by the State Police who had two-way radio equipment mounted on the tower. This radio equipment has been moved to a new monopole. The group has been working to have the State Police transfer ownership of the land to the adjacent Grafton Lakes State Park, and with this transfer begin restoring the fire tower. With the current ‘Homeland Security’ issues this transfer has been delayed. The tower is registered on the National Historic Lookout Register, and a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places has been submitted for this tower."

Another Bill Starr story:
"As most of you know Randy Kneer
and I went to visit Dickinson Hill (R4) Observer Helen Ellett
today at her home in Grafton, NY. Helen turns 95 years old on
Monday 2-17-09 and she is as sharp and sassy as they come. We
had a great visit!



"Helen is the ultimate "Tom-Boy." She loves to big game hunt and
she proudly displays her many Whitetail Deer head mounts, She
founded the "Grafton Trail Riders" equine club in the late 1940s
along with an early snowmobiler's club in the early 1960s. She
married at 18 years of age and she proudly showed me the 5
generation picture that was taken in December showing Helen, her
daughter, grandson, great-granddaughter and
great-great-granddaughter.



"Helen lived about 5 miles away from the fire tower. During the
week she would ride one of her horses to work at the fire tower.
On weekends Helen, her daughter and husband would stay in the
cabin at the fire tower.



"Attached are two very nice pictures of the Observer's cabin at
Dickinson. In the one picture note Helen's horse in the
background. Do you recall the concrete block building that was
attached to the side of the cabin? It turns out that it was a
garage that District Ranger Charlie Traver had built in 1950
from the capital construction fund money. He said that he could
not justify building a horse stable, but she could stable her
horse in the garage. Note the picture of the garage interior
with Helen and one of her horses.



"Lou Curth...District 12 never held a Spring meeting bringing
all of the rangers and observers together. Dickinson Hill never
had a two-way radio until the present day radio network was
created in 1965, her last year on the tower. She did however
talk frequently over the telephone with the observers at Colfax
and Cornell Hill to triangulate smokes. She did become friendly
with Observer Jennie Bennett at Colfax. From the last picture
taken at the Conservation Dept. display at the Schaghticoke Fair
she was acquainted with Ranger George MacDonald.



"The final question I asked dealt with a rumor I heard at a
Friends of Dickinson Hill picnic about 5 years ago. I had
overheard that an Observer was murdered at their fire tower. She
said that this did indeed happen and she was told about this by
District Ranger Charlie Traver. She did not recall which fire
tower it was, but she did say that it happened at one of the
Adirondack fire towers. It stemmed out of a love triangle
between the female Observer, her husband and her lover. One of
the men went into a jealous rage and killed her in the cabin at
the fire tower.



"I am guessing that this took place during Helen's first tour on
Dickinson 1943-1953 being that in 1960 Charlie Traver was
retired...."

Map

Change Basemap

Photos

1959

1959

Observer Helen Ellett and sign 1959

Observer Helen Ellett and sign 1959

Cabin 1959

Cabin 1959

Post card circa February 1932

Post card circa February 1932

Observer Helen Ellett (1953)

Observer Helen Ellett (1953)

Observer Helen Ellett (1953)

Observer Helen Ellett (1953)

Observer Helen Ellett (1953)

Observer Helen Ellett (1953)

1959 tower photo

1959 tower photo

April 2004 photo by Bob Eckler

April 2004 photo by Bob Eckler

Visit Reports

May 7, 2016: Jack Kelley

Condition

Needs paint? No Response
Shutters OK? Yes
Condition of wood OK? Yes
Stairs OK? Yes
Glass intact? No Response
Comments: The tower looks great, especially after the restoration. There was no glass in the windows, but there wasn't supposed to be any, so that was fine.

Electronics and Enroachments

Are electronic sites enroaching on tower? No
Other enroachments? There is a cell tower nearby, but no equipment on the tower.

Access and Signs

NHLR sign posted? No
Directions to tower signed? No
Comments? Inside the park there are some directions, but there are no signs indicating that you are entering a state park on the outside.

Staffing

Staffed? No

Opportunities for Volunteer Support

Volunteers staffing opportunities? No Response
Volunteer maintenance opportunities? No Response