Fire TowersFire lookout towers can be found overlooking the forests on numerous mountaintops throughout the state. At one point, there were over 80 fire towers in New Hampshire, but only 29 still remain and of those 29, only 17 towers are still manned. The remains of some old fire towers can be found on mountain peaks including Mt. Osceola in Waterville Valley. Historically these towers were used to spot and respond to wildfires that were becoming an increasingly large threat between 1888 and 1911 as a result of logging. Evidence suggests that the oldest tower in New Hampshire, Croydon station, was built during this time. The use of aircrafts for fire spotting starting in 1948, however, largely led to the declining use of fire towers. Now many of the towers are used for recreation purposes because of the stunning 360° views that they provide. The towers turn some lower elevation summits like Warner Hill in Derry (605’) popular hiking destinations. There are even a few state parks that include fire towers as major attractions, including Pawtuckaway State Park (currently closed for construction), Rollins State Park, Weeks State Park, and Milan Hill State Park.
Great Hill Fire Tower
The following towers are highly suggested, family-friendly hikes:Location: Belknap Mountain (2382') in Gilford, NH First Date of Operation: 1913 Nearest State Park: Ellacoya
Belknap Mountain Fire Tower
Cardigan Mountain Fire Tower
Green Mountain Fire Tower
Fire Tower Fun Facts
- Hallie Daggett became the first female fire lookout in 1913.
- Common tools used by a fire lookout include the Osborne fire finder, maps, binoculars, compasses, etc.
- Fire towers date as far back as the Edo period of Japan (1603 – 1868).
- Types of fire towers include: Wooden, steel, Aermotor (very popular in the Adirondacks and Catskills of New York), and ground cabs.
Covered BridgesCovered bridges have long been considered among the most romantic icons of New England. The timber framed bridges were once popular places to escape from rain and snow or maybe even steal a secret kiss. Of the estimated 400 covered bridges that once stood, however, only about 50 still remain. In an effort to help preserve these cultural icons, the Federal Highway Administration established the National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program in 1998. Historically, timber in New Hampshire was very inexpensive due to the levels of intense logging statewide. As a result, timber products were used for a wide variety of structures including bridges. It was, however, a well-known fact that a timber bridge left open to the elements would only last about 10-15 years before rotting and becoming unsafe. A simple solution to this problem was to cover the bridge and protect its structural integrity. Covered bridges throughout the world come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. In New Hampshire, however, bridges are commonly equipped with the Paddleford style truss. This style is named after Peter Paddleford of Littleton, New Hampshire. Many of the bridges that still stand in New Hampshire are easily accessible and located near major towns, like the Swift River Bridges in Plymouth and Conway. Each bridge seems to have its own personality and unique story which makes seeking them out a very fun hobby. If peak bagging is not a hobby that interests you or your family, then maybe you should give bridge bagging a try!
The following bridges are highly suggested and easily accessed:Bridge Name: Sentinel Pine Location: Flume Gorge Date Built: 1939 Nearest State Park: Located in Franconia Notch State Park Bridge Name: Blair Location: Campton, NH Date Built: 1869 Nearest State Parks: Franconia Notch and Wellington
Blair Covered Bridge in Campton
Bump (AKA Webber) Covered Bridge in Campton
Tannery Hill Covered Bridge in Sandwich
Durgin Covered Bridge in Sandwich
Covered Bridge Fun Facts
- The Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge that runs from New Hampshire to Vermont is the world’s longest 2-span covered bridge.
- Pennsylvania is home to not only the most covered bridges in the United States, but the first bridge in the United States as well (550’ Permanent Bridge in Philadelphia, 1805).
- During the height of the covered bridge era (1800s – 1950s) there were more than 10,000 covered bridges in the United States, 400 of which were in New Hampshire.
- There are two covered bridges in Switzerland that were built in the 1500s that are still standing today.