Cameron Hill Fire Tower
STORY OF THE QUILT SQUARE: CAMERON HILL FIRE TOWER, BY
THE CREATIVE EXTENSION HOMEMAKERS CLUB FOR-HARNETT COUNTY HISTORICAL
The Cameron Hill Fire Tower
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
fire tower in service today was erected in 1951. The tower's height is
99 feet, nine inches.
first Cameron Hill Fire Tower, gone but not forgotten, is remembered
fondly by those who shared with us these delightful stories.
IS HISTORY BUT A FABLE AGREED UPON?"
Written by: Norma
Belt -Board Member,
Friends of the Harnett County Library
For: Creative Extension Homemakers Club, April, 1992
Forest Resources, North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and
Designed by: Paul Soublet
8, Number 40
applique: Debbie Sox
by: Margaret Randall, Director
County Library 1962 -1989
Square: Row 3, Number 16