Southford Falls Watchtower
Southford Falls State Park, Oxford
Metal Fire Tower (~25 feet) on Unnamed hill (not too high)
This may be the “worst” tower on my tower list in that it doesn’t offer a full 360-degree view – though it most certainly did at one time – and it’s not very tall. But it’s still worth a visit and a climb nonetheless. After all, at Southbury Falls State Park you get the bonus of a cool waterfall and even covered pedestrian bridge. Plus, it’s a free state park, so you don’t have to pay to see this stuff.
Ironically, I have more pictures of this little tower than some of the more well-known and impressive towers, simply because I sought it out after I put together this tower list – AND I had Damian with me. We drove west out to Southbury and Oxford for a day of “adventure” as we like to call it (Diego from Dora the Explorer goes on adventures, so it works for Damian). The highlight was a stop at Southford Falls State Park.
While the main entrance to the park is in Southbury off of route 188, 95% of the park is actually in Oxford. After enjoying the pond and waterfall, Damian and I began our trek down Eight-Mile River. The recent spring floods pretty much wiped away the trail, but the covered bridge crossing the gorge is still standing.
After the bridge, I sort of nudged Damian along to actually do some hiking himself which he actually did for once! For about half a mile around the park and even up the hill; over rocks and roots and around trees and other obstacles. He was smiling and enjoying himself! These are the moments I daydreamed about when he was a baby which I’ve sort of had to readjust with his small size, hypotonia and syndrome. (Read more about Damian’s Smith-Magenis Syndrome if you’re so inclined.) I was one proud papa as we plugged along up the hill.
Hikers passing us the other way could have had no idea how impressive this was for both of us. Of course, once the trail turned left and ascended in a bit more earnest, it was time to pick up the boy and forge ahead.
I was happy to reach the old watchtower to be able to take a little break. Unfortunately, it suddenly started drizzling on the hilltop – as if this place had its own microclimate or something! No way was Damian going up that thing, so I plopped him down and bounded up the super-steep stairway. The tower is solid and not rickety at all despite appearances.
Damian pitched a fit of course, but it wasn’t like he was going anywhere. The view is pretty muted as the trees to the east and north of the tower have grown taller than the viewing platform. No matter, the views west and south are pretty enough, even without any snow left and no leaves on the trees yet. I like the DEP’s geologic view of the area: “…for a good view of a U-shaped valley to the south, steepened and widened by the grinding of rocks in the ice as a glacier flowed down it between 16,000 to 24,000 years ago. The rocks at the base of the tower contain some folds. Also notice the tiny ridges in the rock around the tower base. These are examples of differential weathering. The ridges are made up of minerals that are a little harder than those in the rest of the rock, thus they are not weathering as fast.”
I love that stuff. Once down, I carried the child the remaining ¾ mile or so back to the parking lot, secure in the knowledge that I have one more tower on my way to a list completion.
I keep calling this thing a fire tower, but it’s not listed on the Connecticut Fire Towers list and the park refers to it as a watchtower. But I ask, if you’re not watching for fires, what are you watching for?
Hm. Maybe Russian artists? Because they’re in Southbury.
Or Nazis? Because Southbury has a rather important historic tidbit about that.