Gretna Longware of Elizabethtown is the leader of a battle
to preserve Adirondack cultural heritage against the State's decades
long campaign of attrition. The 80-year-old Hurricane Mountain
Fire Tower is the symbol around which local Adirondack people
are rallying to preserve their cultural heritage. Although retired
from use in the early 1970's, the tower is still standing and
visible from Route 9N between Elizabethtown and Keene. Last year,
however, local people discovered a State plan to dismantle the
structure and ship it out of the area for display at a fairground.
The citizens organized a group called Friends of Hurricane Mountain
Fire Tower to protect it in its historic location. One of the
citizens was Gretna Longware, whose husband Melvin's uncle and
great uncle served for decades as forest rangers at the tower
Mrs. Longware is fighting procedural hurdles dealing with the Adirondack Park Agency, an all-powerful governor-appointed zoning agency, to revise the state land use plan, a sort of ossified bible of state land restrictions that should have been revised in response to countless conflicts with local people years ago. In an area of very sparse population, she gathered 1,750 signatures in favor of preserving the fire tower, and gathered numerous endorsements from town, village and county boards as well as state legislators for her position. The future of Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower has been hanging for over a decade, but, because of Gretna Longware and the many people that she and others have brought to the fray to save the landmark, the tower still stands atop Hurricane Mountain.