Cameron Hill Fire Tower

History of the Quilt

Objectives

Project Description

Evaluations of Accomplishments

Future Plans for the Project

Proposal Letter

Request to Commissioners

Biographies by Homemakers Clubs

Biographies by Friends of the Library

STORY OF THE QUILT SQUARE: CAMERON HILL FIRE TOWER, BY THE CREATIVE EXTENSION HOMEMAKERS CLUB FOR-HARNETT COUNTY HISTORICAL QUILT, 1989

The Cameron Hill Fire Tower

The story of the Cameron Hill Fire Tower was made possible by asking the questions What? When? Who? and How?, and getting the answers from a lot of interesting people.

Herein lies a perfect example of the need to document the local history. Volumes of local history are being lost with the passing of those with knowledge of interesting people and historical events related to them by their elders; elders who had the desire to share stories of their personal experiences and stories of many others WHO PASSED THIS WAY.

Unable to find information on the tower in the library, we searched the newspapers' library. With no success there, we called the North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, a division of Forest Resources in Raleigh. Much to our surprise, their files contained only vague information on the tower. The oldest recorded information on file was a deed for a telephone line easement signed in 1928. No date was found for the construction of the fire tower. They were sure however, the tower was built before 1928, and assured us we would be able to find the complete history in the county library or in the office of the register of deeds!

This brings us again to the point. Countless stories have been lost and assuredly, more will be if we do not take the time to put in writing the stories these dear elders relate to us. It is amazing, the many details of events that have long passed, together with names and dates these senior historians are able to recall as easily as if it were a current event.

The Cameron Hill Fire Tower is believed to be the first fire tower in North Carolina built on private land. The time of construction has been agreed upon to have been the Autumn of 1926; the birth year of a local resident who remembers his mother telling him of going to see the newly constructed tower a few days after his birth.

A local oral historian tells of logs 65' in length that were brought to Pineview by rail on flat cars, then transported to Cameron Hill on two log carts pulled with teams of mules. The logs, probably Cypress or Juniper, were from trees found in Green Swamp near Bladen County, North Carolina. A sample of the wood was sent to Raleigh by Jim Randolph. However, there has been no known follow-upon the analysis.

Without the specialized equipment available today, raising the first pole to a standing position was very challenging. The task was accomplished by using pulleys and ropes on nearby pine trees. With the first pole in place, the other poles were not as difficult.

We are told a model of the fire tower was made by Leon McDonald: the general contractor was D. A. Huffines, and Arnold Graham was the first tower man.

The fire tower was a tourist attraction, with people coming from all parts of Harnett and neighboring counties to see this new wonder. Many would come on Sunday, bringing with them a picnic in a basket. It was a popular practice to carve their initials on the poles supporting the tower.

The site of the original Cameron Hill Fire Tower, once believed to be the highest point in Harnett County is easily located. A ring of long leaf pine planted around the tower

stands in silent remembrance. The planting of pine trees was not a common practice as it was mistakenly believed they would not grow if transplanted. So great was their number, there was no interest in doing so.

Many stories have been recalled and related to us. It is not hard to imagine an absolutely beautiful day and Mr. Huffines painting an arm of the tower near the top just a few feet above another painter, becoming overcome by the beauty of the expansive view and the peaceful feeling of kinship with nature, sky and earth, suddenly vocalizing his joy by singing. It was not his singing but his choice of song, NEARER MY GOD TO THEE that seemed very inappropriate to his fellow worker, who asked Mr. Huffines to choose another. Apparently he did not share the feeling of exhilaration, or perhaps to him the song had a more somber meaning.

The fire tower in service today was erected in 1951. The tower's height is 99 feet, nine inches.

The first Cameron Hill Fire Tower, gone but not forgotten, is remembered fondly by those who shared with us these delightful stories.

"WHAT IS HISTORY BUT A FABLE AGREED UPON?"

-Napoleon

Written by: Norma Belt -Board Member,

Friends of the Harnett County Library

For: Creative Extension Homemakers Club, April, 1992

Sources: Local Historians

Fire Wardens

Forest Resources, North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources

Quilt Square: Designed by: Paul Soublet

Row 8, Number 40

Embroidery and applique: Debbie Sox

Creative Extension Homemakers Club

Written by: Margaret Randall, Director

Harnett County Library 1962 -1989

Quilt Square: Row 3, Number 16