Belvidere Mountain Firetower and Cabin, 1900
Belvidere Mountain Firetower and Cabin, 1900

In 1929, Walter O’Kane described the hike to top of Belvidere Mountain:

After a few minutes you will arrive at the rocky top of the mountain, coming out beside the new lookout tower. The cabin occupied by the fire warden lies just beyond. Both cabin and tower are good examples of clever workmanship. The tower, especially, is worth noting, because of the skillful way in which its parts are fitted together, utilizing largely materials obtained on the mountain itself. The builder was L. T. Kinsley. While it rises high above the scrub trees that are scattered over the summit of the mountain, it stands secure and staunch through the heavy storms that sweep the exposed mountain top.

The State Forestry Department, charged with maintaining the summit of Belvidere Mountain, allowed both the cabin and fire tower to fall into severe disrepair.  To save what it could, the Green Mountain Club began a restoration project in the summer of 1984. The project restored the tower, but the cabin was demolished. Bob Lindeman, one of the project supervisors, described the restoration:

Cabin and Tower on Belvidere Mountain before restoration, 1983
Cabin and Tower on Belvidere Mountain before restoration, 1983

The summit of Belvidere Mtn. received quite a bit of attention this past summer. Those of us who remember the half-destroyed old Ranger’s cabin, the scars of numerous fires, and a fire tower with no guardrails and a rotting platform will be surprised the next time they climb Belvidere.

Work on cleaning up the summit came about through a joint effort between the GMC and Vermont Job Service’s Summer Youth Employment Program. SYEP is a CETA-funded project offering jobs to unemployed youths. The GMC provided tools, arranged for supervision and an almost unlimited amount of trail work; VJS/SYEP ran the program and provided the salaries. The project was set-up to last for 8 weeks and provide jobs for 12 unemployed youths and operated out of the Morrisville Job Service Office. Bob Lindemann from the Sterling Section and John Lepinski from the Killington Section were the work Supervisors.

While the fire tower has been the desitination for day hikers, the view from the tower was unique on the Long Trail. The following is from the 1956 Long Trail Guide Book:

Via the Forester’s Trail, it is 0.2 m. to the summit of Belvidere Mt. on which is located a recently abandoned fire tower and lookout watchman’s cabin. From the summit the Green Mountains are visible to the south beyond Camel’s Hump. An active asbestos mine is seen at the base of Belvidere Mt. on the east slope, and on the south slope is a mine not now in use. This worker-owned complex is one of the largest asbestos mines in the United States and is an economic mainstay of Vermont’s sparsely populated Northeast Kingdom.

Before it became synonymous with cancer, Vermont was the largest supplier of asbestos in the country. Asbestos was discovered here in 1824, but little was done to mine it at first. It took about 15 tons of rock to make a ton of asbestos fiber, that was tgeb used in many building materials such as shingles, siding, roofing, and many other industrial uses. The mines first opened in 1900 and eventually supplied 96% of all asbestos produced in this country. The huge mine operated around the clock and employed 240 to 300 men. The mines closed in 1992 after the health effects of asbestos were discovered.

Eden Asbestos Mines
Eden Asbestos Mines

The 1937 book, “Let Me Show You Vermont” emphasized the importance of asbestos to the state:

Asbestos, more of a mineral than a stone, is at the head of the alphabetical list of Vermont’s natural resources. This fibrous mineral wool which has come into widespread use for insulation is found more abundantly in Vermont, I believe, than in any other section of the United States. Vermont is particularly rich in the silken long-haired asbestos known as chrysotile, found, and mined extensively in Lowell, Eden, Belvidere, and some other places in northern Vermont. The United States geological survey in 1912 reported: “Vermont continues by far the most important producer of chrysotile in the United States; in fact, it was the only producer this year aside from the small supply reported from Wyoming.

(1984, February). Long Trail News, XLIV (1).

O’Kane, W. C. (1929). Trails and Summits of the Green Mountains. The Riverside Press.

Crane, C. E. (1937). Let Me Show You Vermont. Alfred A. Knopf.

(1956). Guide Book of the Long Trail (15th ed.). Green Mountain Club.

(1983). Guide Book of the Long Trail (22nd ed.). Green Mountain Club.