Staining Goddard Shelter, 2021
Staining Goddard Shelter, 2021

Goddard Shelter Replaced and Glastenbury Fire Tower Repaired

By Kate Fish

Ghost stories pervade Glastenbury Mountain. This enchanged summit with its historic firetower is the center of the Glastenbury ‘Itiangle, a place where many weird, tragic and purportedly supernatural events have occurred over the centuries. Glastenbury has been a favorite overnight site on the Long ‘Itail since hikers took refuge in its first shelter in 1929. The most recent shelter was built in 1985 and named in honor of Ted Goddard, a former GMC president.

In 2003, the club began planning to replace the shelter’s roof and sleeping deck in tandem with reconstruction work on the fire tower. The Glastenbury fire tower, built in 1927, offers visitors spectacular views, hardly marred by human structures. The tower was deemed unsafe during the winter of 2004 and required tread and railing work to bring it up to safety regulations. The following fall, Goddard Shelter’s logs were found to be rotten, necessitating replacement of the structure rather than renovation. Doug Reeves of the US Forest Service negotiated the planning and permitting process in nearly record time.

After their son Shaun died tragically in 2003, the Keenan family of Shaftsbury was looking for a way to honor his memory. Shaun loved to hike and had made many treks in the Glastenbury area, making this the ideal project to support. Additional financial support was provided by the Vermont Country Store, the Appalachian ‘Itail Conservancy, GMC’s Bennington Section, RK Miles Hardware, the Theodore Goddard family, and the USDA Forest Service.

Veteran GMC shelter-builders, Erik and Laurel Tubiason, spent weekends during July and August preparing the shelter materials. The Bennington Section’s Paul Austin pre-built the handicapped-accessible moldering privy with the help of Williams College architecture students. Shaftsbury resident Janet Mattison generously allowed use of her five-acre field as a staging area for the airlift of materials. RK Miles of Manchester stored and delivered more than one ton of steel for the tower renovations, including the new roof for the cab.

Volunteers spent two days preparing loads to be airlifted to the mountain. Friday, August 19 was warm and mostly dry, and thirty-one loads of materials were flown up the mountain in just under eight hours. The weekend greeted volunteers with rain and fog, but they persisted and the sona tubes were poured. Work began on the privy, which was nearly completed by Sunday.

Volunteers work on Goddard Shelter, 2004
Volunteers work on Goddard Shelter, 2004

With the help of the Forest Service’s John Kamb and Bi11 Garrison, GMC project leader Matt Wels began the tower renovations, which required precise cutting and dri11ing of galvanized steel. The new cab roof, set on top of the tower by the chopper, was wrestled into position and secured. Treads, railings and platforms were replaced and the project was completed mid-October.

Volunteers the weekend of September 10 and 11 were blessed with sunny skies and pleasant temperatures for building the new shelter. Over thirty-five gathered on Saturday and over twenty rallied on Sunday to raise the structure. Donning hardhats, volunteers leveled the sill beams, nailed decking, attached siding, pegged the frame, sanded exposed beams, and attached the roof. An air of excitement surrounded the build, with people sharing food, laughter and stories.

On Sunday at 1 P.M., a ceremony was held with the Keenan family. GMC Executive Director, Ben Rose remarked, “It was clear from the beginning that this was a special project, because we accepted a profound gift and responsibility: the Keenan family’s support for a structure where their son’s spirit would always reside.” A cherry wood plaque was affixed to the shelter as the final touches were completed.

The new Goddard Shelter, a post-and-beam masterpiece, will stand not only in memory of Shaun Keenan, but as a testament to GMC volunteers banding together to realize a project. Without their efforts, future hikers would not be able to enjoy the respite of a shelter in this special place.

Long Trail News, Winter 2005