August 16, 1935: "Climbing state fire towers is becoming a popular diversion among summer visitors in Michigan who are not afraid of altitudes. At one tower located near Lewiston in Montmorency county there have been approximately 800 visitors so far this year. Among the oldest were Amos Gill, 84, of Lewiston and A.C. Bradley, also 84, of Clarkston. The youngest visitor was an infant, six months of age, who was carried up the tower. The largest number of visitors in one day was 65. This was recorded on the Fourth of July. Towerman John Ackles reports that his most unusual visitor was a dog which climbed the 100-foot structure unassisted. Towermen and in many instances their children habitually climb the 100-foot towers without hesitation, but many visitors become frightened and turn back after reaching the fourth or fifth landing. The way to climb a tower, say the men who man them, is to keep right on climbing without a look downward. Don't give yourself a chance to become nervous. Visitors who reach the cabin and register usually are rewarded by a fine view of the surrounding country. Towermen are always glad to have guests." (The Ironwood Times)
"The story I have involves a bit of history covering the so-called Comstock Hill fire tower in Lewiston, Michigan. Back in the late 50’s my father, H. Robert Baker, got a job manning that particular fire tower. At the time this came under the responsibility of the Michigan Department of Conservation, which was later renamed the Michigan DNR (Department of Natural Resources). This was technically not a full-time job as my father only worked during what was considered the fire season and only on days that it did not rain. He was only paid for the hours he spent actually in the tower and then that was limited to eight hours a day, any time over that was banked for when there were ‘rain days’. Also, at the end of the season, he would be laid-off until the next season. Fortunately, the state did pay unemployment so we didn’t go hungry during the Winter months. During the period when my father had this job, me, and my younger brother and sister, as well as my mother, would often climb the tower and spend an hour or so with him, often bringing him his lunch. In those days, the only means of communication with the county Conservation headquarters, which was in Atlanta, Mi, was by two-way radio (he had to have an operator’s license). He could also talk to other fire towers when they needed to triangulate a smoke source. My father had this job for about five years until he was finally allowed to take the state civil service exam and was hired full time but that meant leaving the tower job when he became a heavy equipment operators for the “Game Division”. In 1980, he retired from the then DNR as a regional supervisor in the Game Division. He died in 1989. But there’s a bit more to the story. After my father left the tower they continued to man it for a couple of more years but finally shut it down in the mid 60’s. By then they were using more aircraft for fire spotting. However, one summer during the late 60’s (not sure of the exact dates) there was an extremely hot and dry summer and they decided to reopen the Comstock Hill tower, at least temporarily, as it was situated on the highest elevation in all of the Northern half of the Lower Peninsula and was also located where virtually all of the land around it was still basically state and federal forest lands, where fires could be truly devastating. The problem was that they didn’t have anybody trained to man the tower and use the equipment. Well someone had the idea that perhaps my mother could do the job since she was familiar with the procedures being that my father had manned the tower for five years and she had made numerous visits to the tower during those years. So they gave her a crash course in radio procedures, how to use the ‘Osbourne Fire Finder’ and got her a temporary radio operator’s license and she was in business. She only worked for about two weeks or so until the extreme fire danger had passed. It was shortly after that that the state decided that if they weren’t going to be using these towers that they really needed to be dismantled since they could be held liable if someone injured themselves climbing them, which many people did since the view from up there was great, so it was completely taken down and all that’s left are the concrete foundations where the legs of the tower were mounted (see attached photo taken in April 2015). Anyway, my mother, Mildred Baker, holds the obscure honor of being the last person to man the Comstock Hill fire tower and being the only women to have been hired, even If it were only for a few weeks, to ‘man’ that tower. She passed away in 2000, but she always talked about this experience (I just wish we had gotten her to write down more of the details). So that’s my story, for what it’s worth. I hope you enjoyed it and perhaps some abbreviated bit of it could be added to the webpage. John R. Baker Irvine, CA "