Fire Tower and Forest Service Cabin

Come hear about the work of protecting and managing woodland resources directly from the forest patrol. Learn how forest fires start and the role that fire plays in the health of the forest. Keep watch over the forest by climbing the state’s only 100-foot fire tower.

At the peak of Minnesota logging, catastrophic forest fires fueled by logging operations swept the landscape, leaving dry tree tops called "slash" and devastating many northern communities. Seeing a need to begin conservation measures and fight the growing danger of forest fires, the state created the Minnesota Forest Service, a forerunner to the Department of Natural Resources.

The Forest History Center's fire tower was built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was moved here from its original location in Bena, and is the only true historic structure on the site (the others, like the logging camp and wanigan, are replicas). In clear weather, you can see 12 miles to Pokegama Lake.

Before you go...

  • The tower is 100 feet or ten stories tall, with 126 steps, requiring a significant physical effort to climb.
  • Minimum age for climbing is age 6 and proper footwear must be worn — no flip-flops, high heels, or bare feet.
  • For safety, the tower is closed November through May.

In 1905, management of US forests transferred to the newly established United States Forest Service (USFS), ushering in a period of increased national and local resources for the management and “conservation” of forests.

Small and utilitarian warehouses, water towers, latrines, and cabins, needed to house forestry staff and equipment, were built in national and state forests with labor and funding from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1920s and 30s.

The cabin at the Minnesota Forest Service site is a reproduction patterned after a 1930s forest service design. Cabins like this were used to house patrolmen and fire fighting crews. A tool cache shed is located adjacent to the cabin.