Author hikes to save historic Shuckstack fire tower

Would you hike the Appalachian Trail to save an old lookout tower? Author and soon-to-be Asheville resident Peter Barr would … and is. He wants to save the Shuckstack fire tower in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and as of July 9, he has raised $2,178 — almost one-third what he estimates it will take to repair and restore the structure.

Barr, who recently reached New England after starting his AT journey in Georgia back in the spring, wrote Hiking North Carolina’s Lookout Towers and founded the North Carolina chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association, a group dedicated to preserving and restoring fire lookout towers for their historic and scenic values.

Shuckstack was built in 1934 by the Public Works Administration, Barr explains on his website about his hike and his mission. The tower “stands 60 feet tall from the ground to its cab floor. The lookout was staffed by the National Park Service, standing sentinel over the nearby forests and mountain peaks that had recently been set aside for the enjoyment of future generations. It was utilized for fire detection through the 1960s, when at that time aerial surveillance became more efficient and replaced use of many lookout towers. …

“The NPS used to welcome hikers to visit and climb the towers, where they would be shown the beauty of the surrounding park. … The panorama includes all of the western Great Smokies, Nantahala Mountains, Cheoah Mountains, Unicoi Mountains, Fontana Dam, Fontana Lake, and the ability to see two states. Its views must be hard earned; the climb to the summit is often regarded as one of the most difficult on the entire Appalachian Trail. …

“With nearly six weeks left to go before reaching Katahdin, I am setting a new fundraising goal of $3,000,” Barr adds in a recent blog about his adventure. He estimates it will take $10,000 to save the tower and restore it.

To read more about Shuckstack’s history and Barr’s efforts to save it, go to his website.

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About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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