Pinnacle Knob Fire Tower opens for tours

Special to The Times-Tribune

An historic fire tower built on property of Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in 1937 is going to be open for tours on a scheduled basis starting Saturday.

A representative of the National Lookout Association will be on hand the weekend. A guided walk to the Pinnacle Knob fire tower will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. Participants should meet in the great room of the Dupont Lodge at Cumberland Falls.

The Pinnacle Knob tower is unique in several ways. First, very few fire towers remain in Kentucky, and Pinnacle Knob is one of the most remote. Secondly, it is one of the few built with a 14-foot-by-14-foot cabin which was large enough for the fire watcher to live in. The cabin and catwalk of the tower will be open for scheduled tours.

The Pinnacle Knob Fire Tower was constructed in 1937 by the U.S. Forest Service. It replaced a wooden tower that was located near the Dryland Bridge. The wooden tower had been built by the Civilian Conservation Corps a few years earlier. The new tower was part of a forest-wide fire detection system. Its purpose was to triangulate fires with Bald Rock, Buck Knob, Stearns and Shelly Knob Towers.

The tower was manned by several different men over the years. The “fire watchers” lived in the cabin on top of the tower during the fire seasons, mostly in the spring and fall. By the mid 1970’s the Pinnacle Knob Tower was abandoned. Most towers throughout the U.S. were replaced by aerial observation. Over the past 30 years the tower’s cabin fell into disrepair. During the early 1990’s, a project was started to restore the tower, but without adequate funding the project was put on hold.

In 2007 the project was revitalized. The steel structure was upgraded first. During the spring and summer of 2008, work began on restoring the cabin. The plan was to use original materials whenever possible, as well as maintaining the tower’s authenticity. The park’s goal is to recreate the interior of the cabin to represent the early days of fire detection.

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is 20 miles southwest of Corbin. Take US 25W to KY 90. From I-75 south, take exit 25. From I-75 north, take exit 15. Follow directional signs leading to the park.

Guests may stay in the historic Dupont Lodge or in a fully furnished cottage. The Riverview Restaurant serves a variety of cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If camping is more your style, there are RV and tent sites. To make a lodging reservation, please call 1-800-325-0063.