Monday, August 15, 2011

#36. Hickory Ridge Fire Tower

Although implemented years ago, FDR's New Deal still affects modern America. For better or worse, there is no denying this fact. One of the many impacting segments of this plan was the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC. Founded in 1933, the CCC "brought together the nation's young men and the land in an effort to save them both."  Thousands of unemployed young men enlisted to fight erosion and deforestation, planting more than three billion trees over the course of the CCC's nine year history. In addition to planting trees, the CCC fought fires, controlled insect populations, and built more than 3,470 fire towers. This last duty is that which is relevant to this post; the CCC constructed the Hickory Ridge Fire Tower located within the Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area just southeast of Bloomington.

Standing at 110 feet, the Hickory Ridge Fire Tower was used to spot wildfires until the 1970s. Today the lookout is seemingly isolated; it is located on a six mile drive down a lonely gravel road.

Hickory Ridge Fire Tower
The 133-step ascent to the lookout cabin was initially daunting, but I found it surprisingly invigorating.

Once I reached the cabin, the view was well worth the climb. The small wooden cabin is covered with graffiti, peeling paint, and scribbled signatures. This grittiness contrasted well with the 360 degree panorama of greenery.

Apparently a good place to raise the THC levels

Situated above the treeline, one can see multiple ridges of forest. The view stretches for nearly 20 miles on a clear day, but I would estimate that my view stopped around 15 miles out due to the cloudy day. The cool, overcast day lent the sky a steely tint; the juxtaposition of evergreen and grey was beautifully melancholic.

Although I appreciated the summertime greenery, I would love to return to the Hickory Ridge Fire Tower in the fall. I can only imagine how brilliant the view would be with the infamous Brown County autumn foliage.

The nearby Lake Monroe

I snapped this deer on the way from the fire tower to my grandparents' lake house

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