Hikers salute Mount Arab fire tower’s centennial


Hikers salute Mount Arab fire tower’s centennial

PIERCEFIELD — Saturday morning, the stream of hikers heading to the summit of Mount Arab had an opportunity to stop and chat with some of the folks who make the trek up the little mountain so enjoyable.The Friends of Mount Arab were celebrating the centennial of the mountain’s steel fire tower by offering an opportunity to buy T-shirts, mugs and other souvenirs before making the mile-long walk to the top.The Friends of Mount Arab came together in the late 1990s just as a discussion was being had about taking down the fire towers that dotted more than 100 peaks in New York.“These towers are part of our history,” Friends Chairman Richard Bentley said in the parking area across the street from the trailhead Saturday morning. “I’m an environmentalist myself and I wouldn’t advocate chopping a clearing on top of a mountain and sticking up a tower right now, but as long as these things have been here, they are historical landmarks.”They are a destination, Mr. Bentley said, a reason for people to get out and hike.“Through donations, we have been able to preserve these facilities on top of these mountains,” he said.Mount Arab is one of 25 mountains on which fire towers have been preserved in the Adirondacks.The trail up Mount Arab is extremely accessible. There are only a few steep sections, and many difficult stretches have been eased with natural stone staircases and wooden bridges and steps. It is only a mile long and ends with a series of switchbacks that ease the final ascent to the summit.At the summit, most days during the summer, hikers are greeted by Summit Steward Thomas P. Cullen and his two Newfoundland dogs, Toby and Apollo.“I wear a lot of hats up here,” Mr. Cullen said from the front porch of a cabin that serves as his base of operations and a small museum. “I clean, I educate, I monitor the folks that come up here for good environmentally sound behavior.”The summit is buzzing with dragonflies and hummingbirds this time of the summer, and lots of people.The trail averages about 100 summits per day in the summer, Mr. Bentley said.“All of the peaks in the Adirondacks are seeing this type of pressure,” he said. “Our mountain and the trail and everything is probably more durable than some of the more fragile regions in the High Peaks, so probably it’s best for us to kind of suck it up.”Many of the people who make it up Mount Arab are very young.“At least a thousand kids on school buses come up here,” Mr. Cullen said. “Our trail is maintained specifically for little legs. You will notice that trail is a very meticulous trail for little people. This is a family-friendly mountain. We encourage the little kids to get down and hike rather than being carried up by moms, dads and grandpas.”The tower offers a spectacular 360-degree view of mountains and lakes that stretch to the horizon.Its maintenance is ongoing. New windows will soon be installed on the cab, the little house on the top of the tower, and a map to help identify the many features visible from the tower will be mounted in the center of the cab soon after.Donations to the Friends of Mount Arab are tax deductible and can be mailed to Friends of Mt. Arab Inc., P.O. Box 185, Piercefield, N.Y. 12973.
Source: Watertown Daily Times Latest News
Hikers salute Mount Arab fire tower’s centennial

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