When I was a kid, I thought I had discovered the perfect answer to the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question. The long hike up the mountain, the snug little cabin and the crowning glory of a fire tower with a 360-degree view, plus an occasional hiker stopping by for a visit, seemed like an idyllic life. The network of fire observation towers was an important part of land stewardship in the Adirondacks, but by the time I was old enough to sign up, fire spotting was no longer a viable career. Today about 20 fire towers remain, nostalgic reminders of a time when our woodlands were frequently ablaze. They mark the story of a changing forest and changing culture.

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