In 1924, Ohio erected its first fire tower, Copperhead Fire Tower, in Shawnee State Forest. The 60-foot steel tower was installed on Copperhead Hill which is over 1200 feet above sea level. The combined height of the tower and hill provided a vantage point where lookouts could see thousands of acres of Ohio’s forest.
Copperhead Fire Tower is the first of 39 wildfire lookout towers placed throughout Ohio’s forests. The total cost to build the 60-foot tower, including materials, labor, and transportation was approximately $1,100.
Aerial surveillance of wildfires by aircraft began in the 1940s, and Ohio’s fire towers were slowly phased out. The last tower was closed in 1978. While surveillance from fire towers is a thing of the past, they remain a proud symbol of forest conservation and a monument to the people who worked to preserve our natural resources.
Recently restored, visitors can climb to the top of the tower at their own risk. From the top of the tower, Copperhead Fire Tower provides a magnificent 360-degree view of the surrounding forests and hills.