Forest fire lookout towers were abundant in Maine’s North Woods in the early half of the 1900’s. They came about after a series of fires destroyed many acres of timber in New England in 1903 and were the idea of timberland owners. The Maine Forestry District was formed in 1909 and fire towers began to be constructed. How many readers know that one of these towers was the thirty-foot tall Millinocket Hill tower? Built of wood in 1934, this lookout tower was located just out of town near route 11 and in back of the area where the hospital would be constructed in the mid-1950s. The elevation in that area was 600+ feet.
Ronald LaPlante stopped by the museum recently and offered to donate his scale model Millinocket #71 tower. The model is currently on display at the museum…it is worth a visit to see it! Not only did LaPlante do a scale model of the tower that he admitted to climbing and playing around as a kid, he created a whole scene around the tower (surroundings not true to fact). Accompanying information from LaPlante states “the original tower that existed adjacent to Millinocket did not include the lower level shown. As an afterthought, this feature was included to show the viewer what the interior of the usually accompanying watchman’s cabin appeared like.” Millinocket’s tower was erected so close to town that the cabin was not necessary. Small details shown include everything from the wall telephone for reporting a fire to an outhouse complete with a tiny roll of toilet paper!
Most lookout towers were originally made of wood. During the 1930’s, the Civilian Conservation Corps replaced many towers with metal. Currently, only two are still active. The Millinocket wooden tower was removed in 1955. Anyone have a photo? We found a very blurry one on a photo CD when they were clearing the lot for the hospital in 1954.
New museum donations include: Print featuring Wiggie Robinson Legendary Maine Guide (donor Paul Jacques); address for Little Italy Heritage Days (Harold White); Hospital photo DVDs (John Sears); Donn Fendler book & Maine Game Wardens book (Jim Day).