Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Padlock Hill Fire Tower at the New York State Fair

My husband and I made a trip to Syracuse on Labor Day Weekend. The itinerary included the New York State Fair and the Turning Stone Casino, both firsts for me! Naturally, the first thing that I noticed after walking through the gates was a structure across the grounds resembling a fire tower. My suspicions were confirmed by the fair grounds map - the DEC had an exhibit set up featuring a fire tower.

The tower was originally located on the summit Padlock Hill, near Ithica, New York. It was a 67.5 foot International Derrick tower and was constructed in 1940. According to a website created by Captain Paul T. Hartmann, the tower was first staffed in 1941 and had reported 52 fires and 705 visitors before closing in 1976. In 1977, the tower was sold in an auction to the landowner of the property it once stood on. In 1985 it was donated to the State. The tower was dismantled then reerected by Capt. Ed Pierce and the Region 7 Forrest Rangers with the help of a local steel workers union and crane owner and operator.

The sign on the fence around the tower specifically gives credit to Union Volunteers AFL-CIO, Ironworkers Local #60, Sheet Metal Workers Local #58 and Operating Engineers Local #545.

Aside from the fire tower, the DEC exhibit features a little "nature walk," camping and hiking information, and a section on insects, particularly the emerald ash borer beetle, often referred to as EAB. Native to Asia and Eastern Russia, these beetles have invaded thirteen states in the US. If you have driven through Upstate New York recently, you may have noticed the purple traps hanging from the trees. These traps are being used to locate the leading edge of infestations, as well as new populations.

The New York Invasive Species Clearing House by Cornell University maintains a website with a lot of information about EAB, from which I found more information. In their adult form feed on the edges of the leaves, and the larvae feed on the bark and inner bark of the trees. The trees are killed as the larvae destroy the phloem (inner bark), which transports nutrients made during photosynthesis. The zylem (sapwood) is also harmed by the larvae, which is tragic because this is the part of the tree that delivers water and dissolved nutrients. The tree essentially starves to death when infected by this invasive species. This is a big problem in New York because it was the ash tree that was planted to replace the native elms destroyed by the Dutch elm disease. If large numbers of mature ash trees are destroyed, the effects could be devistating, causing temperature changes, increased air pollution, not to mention the safety and economical impacts of fallen trees.

The Raptor Project was present, showing off several raptors including a bald eagle, falcons, and owls.

We passed on a four dollar Ferris Wheel ride and seeing the Worlds Smallest Woman. Shamefully, I hade a bite of my husband's fried oreo. Not what I expected - much better, actually! If you are unfamiliar, they wrap the oreo in fried dough. It tastes cakey, better than a regular oreo, but unnecessary nonetheless.

It was a fun day at the fair, and if you were wondering, I left Turning Stone with $6.75 more than what I went in with! On the way home my husband pulled over so I could take some cool pictures of the fog reflecting the orange glow of the sunset.

1 comment:

diane said...

It sounds like a wonderful day, firetower, Oreos, and all!