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SUMMER / FALL 2019      © 2021 812 Magazine

The two towers

With just a few steps, you can see for miles.

Ever seen Southern Indiana from 100 feet above the ground? Hidden within our state parks and national forests, lookout towers give us a panoramic view of our woods, lakes and landmarks.

Since the creation of the first tower in 1930 at Clark State Forest, 33 lookout towers were erected in Indiana. Equipped with radios and dedicated staffers until 1972, the towers were used to communicate exact locations of existing fires.

Although they are no longer used for protection, these towers, tucked away in our forests, are a must for adventurers both brave and reluctant.

Hickory Ridge Tower

Charles C. Deam Wilderness, Bloomington

Height: 110 feet, 123 steps

Trail: Located along the Tower Ridge Road with parking nearby

Constructed: 1936

Fun Facts:

  • The tower was the first in Indiana to be added to the National Historic Lookout Register.
  • In 1952, one of the largest fires on record for the area, burning 2,000 acres with flames 40 feet high, came within half a mile of the tower before stopping.
  • Teena Ligman, the public affairs specialist for Hoosier National Forest, has a soft spot for Hickory Ridge Tower. "There's not a bad view from the lookout tower - they're all amazing! You can see wildlife, and it's just incredibly tranquil and peaceful."

Tip: On that 50th step, when the tower starts to sway with the wind, just remember the phenomenal sights waiting for you. I would have climbed 100 more steps for those views.

Lincoln Fire Tower

Lincoln State Park, Lincoln City

Height: 100 feet, 105 steps

Trail: Located on the short side loop off Trail 1

Constructed: 1935

Fun Facts:

  • From the top, you can see the forests of Kentucky and Indiana, Lake Lincoln and Holiday World.
  • Michael Crews, the naturalist for Lincoln State Park, enjoys the sights to the south. "It was built to find wildfires before they got out of hand. Most of the fires were started by sparks from the frequent trains that ran through this part of the country. "

Tip: Looking up at the seemingly never-ending steps of these towers, I was a little daunted. I had to keep telling myself to put one foot in front of the other and not look down. The cool breeze off the lake made my sweaty climb much more enjoyable.