Stillwater Mountain

North Country Winter Scene

Here is a real North Country scene of a fire tower amidst lake effect weather.
Further north of Old Forge and the Fulton Chain is a third Fire Tower in Herkimer County. There is more in the boonies of this county then meets the eye. The Stillwater, Jerseyfield , Atwell, Russia, and Wilmurt areas are more than voids on the map. I have found parts of old trucks lying along railroad tracks, fallen down buildings, mines, and there is a lot more. The hunters hold tightly to the land sometimes preventing access. Luckily some of it is on state land or easements.
On October 28th I paid a visit to Stillwater. I found out the route to the fire tower on Stillwater Mountain was no longer closed to the public. It wasn’t listed under closed to the public in the Fire Tower Study done by the DEC. An article was written about it in the Adirondack explorer. And a group calling themselves Friends of Stillwater Fire Tower had formed. It appeared that the Lyme and Timber Easement had finally taken affect. I asked a local person if Stillwater Mountain had truly become accessible to the public. He said he never heard of it “It doesn’t exist”. I told him yes it does, I have several resources in my car that prove it exists. Even the Rand McNally road atlas shows it plainly. This small mountain was only a mile behind him. He said, “You mean Stillwater Fire Tower”. I thought to myself, well Stillwater Fire Tower is on Stillwater Mountain, but yes. He told me that the hunters didn’t want anyone up there until season ends. After December 5th the locks on all the gates will come off and snowmobile season begins. So on December 5th I returned immediately. The lake effect bands were going to seal the road off permanently. I slid off the seasonal road at least three times and escaped three times. I was determined to see this tower.
When I got to Stillwater the second time, I met an older gentleman working on snow removal. I asked if it was ok to see the tower now. He said yes. Then I asked about a fourth fire tower mountain up by Partlow. Through our discussion I found out he was a retired forest ranger who was involved in the area. After our discussion I proceeded up one of the trails. It was marked with pink ribbon for a distance then terminated. The path was no longer visible beneath the snow. Frustrated, I started bushwhacking up the so called mountain and found the summit and Fire Tower. Once again another tower with its bottom two stairs removed. A ladder was in place of the stairs, but the friends of this tower and the DEC greatly frown on anyone using it. The tower itself is closed to the public. It’s not ready for public use just yet. It was a cold, but beautiful scene of the trees and tower covered in snow. I would say 3-5 inches of fluffy snow at that time.
The 47’ tower from base to cab is at an elevation of 2264’. It’s supposed to bring a view of the Independence Wild Forest and Stillwater area. I can only imagine what that view must be like overlooking Stillwater Reservoir. It might even be possible to see Bald Mountain (Rondaxe). We have to wait a while until the tower is renovated and then a new trail will be laid by the DEC. Because it’s in its early stages of renovation I will not describe how to get there. Let only those who respect it figure it out. Other surrounding former fire tower mountains would be Moose River, Number Four, Beaver Lake, Bald (Not Rondaxe at Old Forge), Cat, West, and the privately built Mount Electra. Bald Mountain by Old Forge can actually be called Rondaxe. I don’t think many people know that. There is another Bald Mountain. A northern existing fire tower is located near Cranberry Lake on Cathedral Rock. It was once the Tooley Pond Fire Tower. It’s all decorated for Christmas.

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Tanya says ... on Wednesday, Dec 8 at 11:40 PM

That Looks Awesome!

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Wellnesste says ... on Thursday, Dec 9 at 11:47 AM

Very cool pic and even better story behind it. Thanks for sharing!

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msteere says ... on Thursday, Dec 9 at 9:10 PM

I wrote in the article I visited the tower on December 5th. That was a mistake. It was Monday December 6th. I only have 6 more towers to go in the ADK. I already beat the Fire Tower Challenge. I found 27 out of 34 that are accessible to the public

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Fred Munk says ... on Friday, Dec 10 at 4:28 PM

I'm the DEC forester responsible for this tower. Trail and tower not currently open to the public, since both under construction & unsafe. When completed will be open to public from May 1 through Columbus Day.

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msteere says ... on Friday, Dec 10 at 6:45 PM

Thanks for posting Fred. Just to cover for myself, I contacted the home of one of the friends of this tower. Some one did answer and say it was ok. The retired ranger in Stillwater also gave me the ok. So I don't know. I tried writing this carefully.

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