Area Green Mountain Club chapter looks to rebuild Bromley Mountain tower

BENNINGTON -- Local hiking aficionados are hoping to raise enough funds to replace an observation tower at the top of Bromley Mountain that offered "fabulous" views for decades.

The wooden tower was taken down last year because of safety concerns, according to Marge Fish, president of the Manchester chapter of the Green Mountain Club. Fish said the structure was deemed to be unstable and had to be dismantled.

The Green Mountain Club, which oversees the Long Trail throughout the state, along with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the state of Vermont and Bromley are now working together to construct a new tower.

"The decision was made that the tower needed to come down and we would try to raise money and replace it," Fish said.

The original tower, which was about 40 feet tall, was first built by Frederick Pabst Jr., heir to the brewing company and original owner of the Bromley Mountain ski area, according to Fish. The tower was built between 1960 and 1962. She said it did not appear in a biennial 1960 guidebook but did appear in the 1962 version.

"He built it because he wanted to have a summer use of the chair, to help people get this fabulous 360-degree view from the trail," Fish said.

The former tower, which rested along the 273-mile trail, provided views to hikers and summer visitors at Bromley into New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

"On a really clear day you could just barely see the beginning of the (White Mountains)," Fish said.

Fish said the local GMC clubs in Manchester and Bennington are part of the project and have permission from the state and Bromley to raise funds and erect a new tower. The land is owned and managed under a complex agreement -- owned by the state, leased and managed by Bromley and the hiking trail overseen by GMC and the ACT

Fish said GMC had been maintain the tower for the past 15 years and expects to continue doing so when a new one can be installed. She said the club hopes to build it about 40 feet north of its original spot, but located on the same ski trail.

With permissions in place, Fish said the club just needs to raise money. The expected cost of a new tower is about $150,000. So far, the club has raised about $25,000.

"We're just starting to go public," Fish said.

In addition to donations from hikers, Fish said the club is hoping businesses in and around Manchester will donate to help boost tourism in the area. She said many visitors to the area utilized the tower in the past for its expansive vista.

"They may not be regular hikers, but they come to the area and decide they're going to hike," she said.

The club is hoping to construct a tower similar and height and with a similar wide platform that can accommodate many people at once. She said an existing structure may be a possibility. "Our first thought is to find an old fire tower and cut off the top," Fish said.

The club hopes to raise enough money through the winter and be ready for construction in fall of 2014, according to Fish.

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