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Kentucky Color - Towerman's Flood

By Billy Joe Fudge, Retired District Forester
Kentucky Division of Forestry

Coming home recently in the evening I suddenly ran through a Towerman's Flood. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I just pushed your curiosity button, so without further ado, I will explain.

During my first 10 years or so as a Firefighter for the Kentucky Division of Forestry, most of our fires were found by a grid of fire towers placed upon tall hills where they commanded a 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside and forestland.

These fire towers were for the most part manned by local folks who lived close by. In many cases the men or women observers would walk from their homes up the road or across a field to mount the steps and begin their assent up the nearly 100 feet to their office for the day.

Keep in mind that the towers were only manned during dry times in the Spring and Fall when wildfires were most likely to be spawned. The times when wildfires could be most intense and destructive would be when storm fronts would be approaching carrying gusty winds, lightning and sometimes a sprinkle or light shower. These showers during dry conditions would do nothing to lessen the burning conditions and the possibilities of new wildfires, so we would ask the folks manning the fire towers to hang in there until it actually began to rain.

Well, with metal towers located upon high hills and then built to stand above the surrounding structures and trees, they could seem to be giant lightning rods at least to those standing in the towers surrounded by glass and metal. Additionally, the thoughts of having to walk down oiled wooden steps and landings in a thunderstorm and driving rain were not pleasant thoughts.

Consequently, the Towermen would often abandon their posts at the first sign of inclement weather. Thus the phrase Towerman's Flood came to mean, two or three drops of rain on a window pane.

This story was posted on 2016-11-06 04:13:55
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Tower Two, Renox Tower: Cumberland, Adair, Metcalfe Counties

2016-11-06 - Cumberland, Adair, Metcalfe Counties, KY - Photo by Billy Joe Fudge.
Tower two - This is Renox Fire Tower which is no longer in use by the Kentucky Division of Forestry and is located directly over the intersection of Adair, Cumberland and Metcalfe Counties. The tower is actually standing in all three counties and commands a splendid view of the surrounding area from Burkesville to Edmonton to Sparksville and to the dividing ridge between Cumberland River and Crocus Creek.

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