Missourians give old towers new life

(Editor’s note: This is the third of a four-part series about fire towers in Missouri.)

There are a handful of lookout towers that are in a category of their own. These are towers that have been purchased and moved for a variety of reasons.

They may make a good deer stand or TV reception, but there seems to be a pinch of “tower love” in all these recipes.

Larry Newton in the cab of the Goodman Tower he purchased for $8,000.

I first became more aware of the purchased tower angle a few years ago as my wife and I drove into Montauk Park for “catch & release.” Just west of Ellsinore, my wife noticed a lookout tower sitting in the field.

Although aware that no tower had ever officially stood there, I was also aware she has a much better “tower eye” than I do. We circled around and there it was.

We headed for the nearest restaurant, always the place to get the story. We were told it was the Grassy Tower, from near Grassy, and had been moved there for a deer stand and since sold. I noted the information and took a picture and headed for Montauk.

Just this summer I became aware of other private towers and thought it would make a good story.

So, I contacted Richard Brown, of Ellsinore, who had helped me find the Brushy Creek site. Now, it seems the tower was originally moved by one fellow but Raymond McGarrity owns it presently.

Richard Brown was able to stir up a phone number and I talked to Raymond on the phone. He verified the information and added the tower may be on the move again to north of Ellsinore, and he plans on putting the bottom 30 feet back on it. It is now the Grassy/McGarrity Tower, I suppose.

Then, this summer I was writing some tower articles for the Reynolds County Courier. I received a contact from Dewayne Botkin in Centerville. He told me he could locate the Jay Tower for me — it was in his backyard! He even invited my wife and I by for a visit, which we did. The Botkins were very nice people to meet.

Now, at one time this Jay Tower stood at the entrance to the Fletcher Mine & Mill. It stood there as a 50 foot or so “windmill” style USFS tower. This style was derived from an Aermotor windmill with the windmill removed and replaced with an observation walkway. These towers were very popular to provide specific coverage to areas that other towers could not cover.

The common practice when both state and federal towers were to be removed, they were put up for auction with one stipulation – the buyer had to remove the tower.

It seems Dewayne Botkin’s Father, Pete, won the auction with the intent of having the best TV reception in Centerville. Dewayne tells the story that his dad climbed the tower and attached a cable before undoing the bolts at the base. He then pulled quickly forward, pulling the tower over and the end of the truck right off the ground.

Little damage occurred to the tower, so it was moved to Centerville by Pete Botkin and put right back up with only some help by crane.

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