Florida’s Fire Towers

If you get off the interstate system in Florida and travel down one of the back highways, you’re bound to pass a fire lookout tower. These structures provided an important function in a state where wildfires are a frequent occurrence in the winter and spring. About 200 steel towers with stations at the top were built in Florida between the 1930s and 1950s, ranging in height from 90 feet to 135 feet.

Today, modern technology and development has made them all but obsolete and only about 100 remain. The towers represent an important part of Florida’s community planning and land conservation histories, but their adaptive reuse options are limited. And they’re a little too dangerous to open to the public.

Fortunately, the towers’ outlook is not all dour.  Over the past decade, the Florida Division of Forestry has auctioned towers off to people who intend to reuse them. The auction winners, mostly ham radio operators,  must then pay to have the towers taken down and reassembled on their own land. About 50 have been saved this way. Go here if you’re interested.

This tower is located on U.S. 301 in North Florida a few miles south of I-10.

It’s located in a rural area, so it very well could still be utilized.

The towers were built on the ground and then erected with cranes.

The Valrico Fire Tower stands on State Road 60 between Tampa and Plant City.

I’m not sure what the antenna at the top is used for.

This tower is located east of Fort Myers on State Road 80 on the way to LaBelle.

The footings seem delicate for its size.

You can find this tower on State Road 20 outside Hawthorne.

The Jonesboro tower along U.S. 19 in north Florida.

 

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