2016-01-05 / Front Page

Friends Group Aims To Restore Fire Tower At McCormick’s Creek State Park In 2016

by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer


Students in the Industrial Arts class of Mr. Kevin Cook (left) at Owen Valley High School sanded and painted this trailer to transport a scaled-down replica of the McCormick’s Creek State Park fire tower. Aimed at generating even more community interest, the moving display will be featured at different locations in and around Spencer, as well as in various community parades and at local festivals. (Staff Photo) Students in the Industrial Arts class of Mr. Kevin Cook (left) at Owen Valley High School sanded and painted this trailer to transport a scaled-down replica of the McCormick’s Creek State Park fire tower. Aimed at generating even more community interest, the moving display will be featured at different locations in and around Spencer, as well as in various community parades and at local festivals. (Staff Photo) One of several Indiana Bicentennial projects in Owen County is also doubling as a centennial project for Indiana’s first state park.

The Friends of McCormick’s Creek State Park are the midst of a fund-raising effort to help fully restore the park’s 86-foot fire tower. Originally constructed in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Company #589, the steel structure is topped with a metal 7’x7’ cab with interior wood panels. The tower was in service through 1967 and was added to the National Historic Lookout Register on November 12, 2008.


A scaled-down replica of the fire tower located on trail 4 inside McCormick’s Creek State Park is currently on display at the entrance to the Canyon Inn. (Courtesy Photo) A scaled-down replica of the fire tower located on trail 4 inside McCormick’s Creek State Park is currently on display at the entrance to the Canyon Inn. (Courtesy Photo) With an estimated price tag of $85,000, the work would include prepping and painting the structure; replacing wooden steps and landings; removing and replacing safety wiring around the staircase; completely rehabilitation the cab; road improvements to provide improved access to the site for workers and construction vehicles; and the clearing of trees in a 50-foot radius around the tower to decrease future structural damage and improve sight-distance.

“We had an anonymous $5,000 donation and our Friends group is going to match that donation. What we’re looking at first is to get a structural analysis, from the ground up,” Mc- Cormick’s Creek State Park (MCSP) Interpretive Naturalist Sam Arthur said. “Luckily, the tower is in pretty good shape, because the park staff has maintained the stairwells and everything. We’ll look at the fencing, the integrity of the steel, down to the foundation and cleaning up the cab, that’s going to be the ultimate long-term goal.”

Friends of MCSP member Rob Babbs said he doesn’t know of another aspect of the community more important to Owen County’s recreation and economy than the state park.

Babbs said the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has approve the restoration, but is providing no funding, leaving the responsibility of the project to the Friends group.

“It’s another way to bring new activity and attractions to McCormick’s Creek – the better our park, the better our community will be. It’s like the Owen County Family YMCA and the Owen County Community Foundation, they aren’t political so everybody can get behind them,” Babbs said. “(MCSP Property Manaer) Dwight Brooks has been excellent to work with and is very respected throughout the DNR. It’s an enjoyable project to be involved in.”

To date the Friends of McCormick’s Creek have raised a total of approximately $15,000 toward the restoration project.

A scaled-down replica of the original fire tower was built and put on display at the entrance to the Canyon Inn by Friends of McCormick’s Creek member Don Jackson.

Jackson’s replica will also be the feature of a moving display aimed at generating even more community interest. Babbs donated the trailer, which was sanded and painted by students in the Industrial Arts class of Mr. Kevin Cook at Owen Valley High School.

Babbs noted the moving display will be featured at different locations in and around Spencer, including Babbs Supermarket, as well as in various community parades and at local festivals.

For additional information on the project, the Friends group or to donate, visit the Friends of McCormick’s Creek online at www.friendsmccormickscreek.org.

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