Atop many of West Virginia’s mountains stand fire towers, some of which are still in use today. Others have succumbed to the elements and are no longer in working order. However, approximately a dozen are still intact, some easily accessible in tourist areas (i.e., the one at Whittaker Station at Cass Scenic Railroad) while others are off the beaten bath. Among the harder to reach ones is Bell Knob Fire Tower in the Dolly Sods Area.
The Bell Knob Fire Tower sits along the ridge and overlooks Petersburg and the Chimney Top section of the North Fork Trail. It began operating in 1943 until 2010 when a record snowfall blew off the top. You may still access it on foot via a grassy road just off Forest Road 19, however, please use caution when approaching the tower, as it may be unsteady. If you’re a geocacher, there is also a geocache nearby (GCKGNT). The search for the geocache is actually what brought me to the tower!
While you must be careful when approaching these structures, they are wonderful to see. Soon, you will even have the chance to climb and stay overnight in one at Seneca State Forest. I’m hoping to stay in that one when it’s renovated 🙂
Until next time,
Sara (WV Travel Queen)
Dolly Sods is like another planet…you never know what you’re going to find around the next trail bend. I’ve never been to the tower, but I did experience a great deal of excitement last time I was “on the Sods.” I camped out in one of the most beautiful meadows I’ve ever seen….but, by nightfall, a wind picked up, rain as cold as ice…and it must have been 60 mph winds- never been in anything like it before or since…
Oh my! I’ve always heard to steer clear of Dolly Sods once night falls or if the forecast calls for rain… I guess your experience rings true to that! I would love to visit again next summer and explore more of the Canaan Valley side of the ridge this time.