NH Fire Tower History the Focus of this Year’s “May is Preservation Month”

Press Release

The N.H. Division of Historical Resources is heading outside for this year’s “May is Preservation Month” celebration, highlighting the state’s tradition of forest fire protection and encouraging visits to New Hampshire’s historic fire towers.

Throughout May, follow the NHDHR’s Twitter account, @nhdhr_shpo, to learn about New Hampshire’s fire tower history and to see some of the towers you can visit. The Division is also encouraging everyone who visits a historic fire tower to share their images on social media and to include the hashtag #MyNewHampshire.

Fire tower fans can also post pictures of themselves at the towers on “My New Hampshire,” the NHDHR’s photosharing website that showcases favorite historic places across the state. “My New Hampshire” is smartphone-friendly and can be accessed from the NHDHR’s website, nh.gov/nhdhr.



New Hampshire’s first fire tower was built in Croydon around 1907. Early fire towers could be as simple as a platform built in a tree, but as the need for more stable structures increased, engineered wooden towers were built. They were replaced by the steel towers still standing across the state today. These towers are topped by cabs that offer 360 degree views.

Many existing New Hampshire fire towers were built in the 1920’s and 1930’s, when forest fires were frequently started by train embers or smoking materials. Watchmen often lived in cabins near the base of a tower and would telephone for help if they saw smoke nearby.

There are 15 state-owned fire towers in New Hampshire, from as far north as Magalloway Mountain in Pittsburg through the Great North Woods and south into the Monadnock, Lake and Merrimack Valley regions. Some are accessible by auto road and others present challenging hikes through rough terrain.

Anyone visiting five or more towers is eligible to receive a Tower Quest patch through the N.H. Division of Forests and Lands, which, like the NHDHR, is part of the N.H. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. A map is available on Forests & Lands' website nhdfl.org, under “Exploring Our Forests, Fire Towers.”

National Preservation Month was established by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1973.