|Tater Knob Fire Tower, after the 1959 renovations.|
Atop the highest point in Bath County, there are the gleaming, silver remains of a structure that once played a vital role in the Daniel Boone National Forest. Sitting 1,388 feet above sea level, Tater Knob is a rock outcropping millions of years old that perches high above the native trees and provides a spectacular view of the entire region. On a clear day, one can see up to thirty miles in each direction; a place many have found as the calming solace in this busy day to day world.Fires have always been a danger to heavily forested areas. The fallen timber, dried leaves and vegetation are a rich catalyst for a conflagration. A forest fire can be started by lightening, careless campers, or at the hands of an arsonist. As people began to settle near the natural beauty of the Daniel Boone National Forest, and industries based on the resources began to boom, a wildfire could be personally and economically devastating to those involved. One such wildfire burned over three million acres across Washington, Idaho and Montana in August, 1910. The fire killed 87 people, many whom were firefighters trying to contain the inferno. This fire is considered the largest wildfire in United States history. After the fire, a focus was placed on preventing such an incident from happening again. Public awareness of conservation and new rules incorporated by the newly formed U.S. Forest Service sought to educate and reduce the fire danger, and to provide an early detection of fires in the forested areas of the United States. Lookout towers were built across the nation to do just that; with men staffing the towers who would be the watchful eye.