Fire tower by Grey Towers: more history to explore

Milford. A fire tower is being restored on the Forest Discovery Trail behind Grey Towers. Nearby is a Yale Forestry School camp with educational exhibits.

| 28 Sep 2022 | 05:41

Visitors to Grey Towers National Historic Site are offered a twofer: natural beauty surrounding the mansion of Gifford Pinchot, and the history attached to it. That deal is even better now: Visitors can hike the half-mile Forest Discovery Trail behind the former governor’s mansion and visit a restored fire tower, built in 1921 and relocated to Milford from atop Big Pocono Mountain in Tannersville. The state donated the tower to Grey Towers as an educational resource when it was scheduled to be replaced with an updated tower. Restoration work began in 2018 with the help of volunteers.

During the Festival of Wood, visitors were allowed to climb up the tower and also to ask questions of two members of the restoration crew, Robert Remillard and Ed Duvinsky.

Explained Remillard, “Gifford Pinchot, as the Forest Commissioner, got funding for fifty fire towers ... and this is one of the original ones. They used to call them the Pinchot Towers. It fits with the historic nature of this site.” The tower is all but restored, with only a couple of educational items to be finished. Duvinsky said a lightning rod will be installed and a replica of a device commonly called a fire finder, used by lookouts to find a directional bearing to smoke to help them alert fire crews.

A short walk from the tower brings visitors to an exhibit at the site of a Yale School of Forestry camp. Concerned with the overuse of our forests, the Pinchots endowed Yale to start the school, which included a summer camp at Grey Towers. There are educational exhibits and a hand powered, environmentally friendly audio interpretive device. You turn a hand crank handle and get the history lesson.

The grounds of Grey Towers are open to the public, and both self-guided and guided tours are available. For details and hours, go to