April 22, 1921: "All fire observers stationed on the mountain peaks, in Saranac district, have been ordered to their posts. Ampersand Mountain is situated nine miles from Saranac Lake and has an altitude of 3,360 feet, and is guarded by Walter C. Rice. Work of erecting the new steel fire observation tower on the top of Ampersand Mountain, will be started within the next three weeks. The structure will be one of the latest designs of towers and the frame work will be solidly imbeded in concrete on the peak of the mountain, which is composed of solid granite. Many persons visit Ampersand daily and climb to the top where all the beauties of this section of the Adirondacks can be enjoyed. Warden Rice keeps a register of all visitors and reports the number registered during the summer of 1921 was 670." (Essex County Republican)
1921: "A new steel tower has been erected on Ampersand Mountain station in Franklin county." (Annual Report of the Conservation Commission)
June 9, 1922: "Walter C. Rice, fire observer for eight years on the top of Ampersand Mountain, has been obliged to relinquish his post as his health will not permit him to work at so high an altitude. In a letter expressing regret at his retirement, C.R. Pettis, superintendent of state forests, commended him highly for his efficiency as an observer and his fidelity to the duties of his exacting and responsible position." (The Adirondack Record-Elizabethtown Post)
September 8, 1932: "William Buckley of Saranac Lake, fire observer of Ampersand Mt., heard a terrible roar on Seymour Mountain, 19 miles away. Turning his powerful field glasses on the mountain he could see an avalanche going down the side of the range. Guides are kept busy taking people to the scene of the disaster over a very dangerous country trail." (The Record-Post)
1932: A new cabin for the observer's living quarters was constructed. (Twenty-Second Annual Report of the Conservation Commission)
September 29, 1959: "A bear attacked and injured a state fire observer as he walked down an Adirondack mountain Monday from his fire tower. Residents of the area said it was the first time they knew of that a wild bear had attacked a person in the forest. Richard Bomyea, 25, of Saranac Lake, suffered deep scratches of the shoulder, hand and arm and was knocked unconscious briefly. He returned home after treatment. He said the bear came at him suddenly as he passed a ledge near the top of Ampersand Mountain, about eight miles west of Saranac Lake. He theorized that the animal feared he was trapped. Bomyea said that as he regained consciousness the bear jumped over him and ran down the mountain. Bomyea then hiked three miles down the mountain. The bear population has been increasing steadily in the Adirondacks and large numbers were seen this summer." (Oswego Palladium-Times)
The observation station was established on Ampersand in August 1911 though no tower was initially erected. The first structure on Ampersand was a stone hut for the observer.
By 1916 each observation station included a cabin for the observers comfort. Previously most were provided only tents for shelter. These original cabins were usually constructed of logs cut on site. Most were small and less than ideal. NoevidencecurrentlyexiststoindicatethatatowerwaseverbuiltonAmpersanduntil1921whena22’Aermotor LS40tower,purchasedthepreviousyear,waserected.
A panoramic map for this tower was completed in 1921 to aid the observer in locating fires. This was a circular map with a panoramic sketch of the surrounding vista around the outside edge. See Poke-O-Moonshine Mt for additional information on the panoramic map andalidade.
Thefirststandarddesignforobserverscabinswasdevelopedin1922andmodifiedin1928,mandatingthattheybe 12’ x 16’ in size and roofed and sided with asphalt shingles.A cabin of the 1928 design was erected in 1932. With the advent of aerial detection this tower was closed at the end of the 1970 season. This structure was removedin August1977becauseitwasdeemedexcesstotheneedsofForestFireControlandwasadditionallya “non-conforming use” in the newly established HighPeaks Wilderness Area.