PI 100: Tallest structure in Presque Isle State Park’s history

PI 365

We continue throughout this year to explore some of the hidden buildings and structures that show some of the richness of the history of Presque Isle.

Our focus is on one of the tallest structures in the park’s history, going 80 feet in the air to protect the park from fire.

Between the Old Ridge Trail and the Marsh Trail near Cranberry Pond is what is left f what was the tallest structure on Presque Isle. The era is the 1920s and a hot, dry summer that caused some big time grass fires.

“This was an area in the early 1920s. 1925 had some issues with fires on the peninsula and one lasted for about a week. It was such a blaze that people gathered at the public dock and they could see the blaze on the peninsula from the public dock,” said Brian Gula, Presque Isle State Park.

Only four footers remain of the solution to peninsula fires, an 80-foot tall fire tower that someone would climb up to perch on. Sitting above the tree line allowed a spotter to just about see the entire park and alert people to what was happening quickly.

“So, there are these four concrete footers and if you look closely and you see the one behind me, you can see the steel beam still protruding out of the footer and those were the main steel beams, the main frame, of course, of the 80-foot tower which was lined with wood,” Gula said.

The Presque Isle Fire Tower was built in the mid-1920s to watch for fires especially in the months of June, July and August.

Fire spotters would climb the tower for about 80 cents each day. For more help in finding where the tower was, you’re asked to contact the friendly staff at the Tom Ridge Environment Center.

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