My first lookout tower adventure was actually Saturday afternoon, and I decided to hit a couple of local sites. That morning I had called my good friend Cathy Taylor (no relation) who is a park ranger at Paris Mountain State Park. It turns out that she has the same interest in fire towers, and was more than willing to share some information.
The first fire tower on Paris Mountain wasn’t on the summit. Rather, it was a wooden structure located on the northeast side of the mountain. Hikers can reach the former site by taking Fire Tower Trail to the remains of the tower’s foundation. I’ve hiked the trail myself, although not recently, and there’s not much left of the tower.
That first location wasn’t ideal because the view was restricted to views north and east. At the time of the first tower’s construction the summit was unavailable, as it was part of the old Altmont Hotel property. The old hotel eventually burned and the land was sold, making way for the current tower and the bristle of antennae that now cover the mountain’s summit.
As mentioned previously, I had made at least two treks to the tower as a child in the late 1960’s. At about age seven I distinctly remember partially climbing the stairs, but getting scared and coming back down. Later I remember climbing all the way to the trap door of the cab, but not entering.
On Saturday’s trip I was once again disheartened at the amount of trash and vandalism at the site. This has always been a hangout, which means that the assets at the top of the mountain need some heavy-duty protection.
With all of the fencing and concertina wire it’s no longer possible to get to the base of the tower, but you can still get fairly close.
While the tower itself appears to be in good condition, the floor of the cab is now completely gone and there is no glass in the windows.
Unlike several other towers I’ve seen, this cab as a rotor vent on top of it. I guess it could get fairly hot up there.
From Paris Mountain I continued northward to Cleveland, SC. I found Firetower Road off of Highway 276 just before you get to Highway 11.
I drove to the top of the hill and could see where the tower used to be, but the tower was long gone. There didn’t appear to be any trace of the structure left – just a circular drive around a clearing where the tower used to be.
Even so, it wasn’t a disappointing trip. From that vantage point I was able to see Glassy Mountain with its tower off in the distance. Clearly these were set up to have line of site with other fire towers. I’m sure that if I had been able to scale the steps of the non-existent tower I would also have been able to see Paris Mountain, Sassafras Mountain, and several other tower sites.
10 thoughts on “Fire Towers – Paris Mountain and Cleveland”
Used to be a really cool firetower just out of Whitestone, SC. This is North of Croft State Park, where you turn right in Whitestone to go down to Lake Johnson. Tower was on the left about the time you entered park property. Used to be a chemical plant in Whitestone that had some cool looking shed style archetecture. And a few old community buildings. Whitestone Hwy runs from US 56 down to US 176 near Packolet. It MAY carry the number 295 now – an extension of Southport Rd? That road goes through a major industrial area in that part of the county. Some old WWI era installations out there.
I may have to check that out. It doesn’t show up on any of my lists, and it’s not on the Pacolet USGS 7.5 Quad map. But then, again, neither was the Big Knob.
I’ll ask dad about it. I see a tower down nearer the lake, but it looks like a radio tower. Tall red spire on it. I remembered there being one farther up toward the highway, but it may have been demolished. I’ll see what he recalls.
the remnants are in paris mtn state park, near the peak
Dad recalled the firetower down there, but thinks it was dismantled. The other tower I saw on Googleearth is Channel 49 (ETV for Spartanburg).
Old Camp Croft, just up the road toward Spartanburg, has some interesting stuff. Old WWII industrial and other buildings, the old Spartanburg Little Theatre, St Luke Methodest (former base chapel, with beautiful trusses on inside), Cedar Spring School, and who knows what else. An old house just off the road down to Cedar Spring church dates back to the 1780s or so. My dad and us redid ceilings in that old house once, and saw where the squirrels had been living for a while. 🙂
I enjoy touring the South Carolina upstate, western North Carolina, and eastern Georgia on my motorcycle, searching for interesting sights. I happened across Firetower Road near Cleveland, SC this morning, and took a look.
It was so foggy, I could not see anything in the distance, but there were some wild roses blooming at the top. I went on to Jone gap State Park and elsewhere.
You may anjoy reading my blog about my adventures — Bucky’s Ride — at the URI above.
Taking a closer look at the Pacolet Quad map, the tower near Whitestone is indeed shown on the Pacolet Quad map…it’s marked as L.O.T. and the coordinates are approx. 34 53 19 / 081 49 14.
My Dad grew up mostly in the house on Firetower Hill in Cleveland SC in the 1940s and 1950s. My Grandmother (Elizabeth Burgess) was the spotter who sat up in the tower mostly, and my Grandfather (Elisha Lee Burgess) worked for the forest service and he and my dad along with their neighbors would go out and fight fires in the Glassy Mountain/Slater/Cleveland/Table Rock area. I have photos of both the firetower and of my Grandfather in the tower. Email me if you would like to see them.
Also, the original house at the tower has been torn down but you can still kind of see where it and the tower were when you are up on top of the hill. Here is my email: email@example.com
Could you email me the pictures firstname.lastname@example.org