The fire tower at McCormick’s Creek State Park is back in business. Even though the original purpose is gone, the newly renovated structure offers an easy climb and beautiful views.
The fire tower fell into disrepair, closing in the early 1980s. The Friends of McCormick’s Creek raised over $100,000 to restore the 86-foot tower. “They started small and then shot for the stars,” says Naturalist Wyatt Williams. The 105 steps to the top are easy to navigate. The plaza underneath the tower is entirely new. Even if you decide not to climb the tower, the view from underneath is impressive.
Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1935, the fire tower arrived as a kit. It was put together over a couple of winter months. The CCC also built bridges, roads, and shelter houses in the park.
The manned fire tower was initially built on a bare dirt hill. The entire park and the nearby town of Spencer were visible from the perch. The idea for fire towers at the time was to have “total visual coverage of the state,” Williams recounts. That plan was never realized.
The CCC made pine tree reforestation efforts in 1935 around the fire tower. From the top of the tower, you are level with the tops of these giants.
Naturalists Jessica Filer and Andrew Naugle lead tours to the tower. They also conduct scheduled programs each month. Information can be found here. In Winter, you may be able to catch a glimpse of the Owen County Courthouse.
Indiana’s First State Park
McCormick’s Creek, Indiana’s first state park, is 104 years old. Stop by the waterfall soon after entering the park. Take a hike to Wolf Cave. Cross the road from Wolf Cave parking lot to Trail 7 for a unique view along the ridgeline. Stop by Canyon Inn for lunch or dinner. From the top of the fire tower to the bottoms of the canyons, Indiana’s first state park always delivers beauty.