While visiting relatives in sparsely populated Catron County, New Mexico in 2015, my uncle took my sister and me up to Eagle Peak, nearly 10,000 feet above sea level.

When we got to the top, I was pretty sure we were seeing most of the county. But I was informed that Catron County is larger than the state of Connecticut, so I was wrong. But we COULD see a great deal.

The one who told me I was wrong in no uncertain terms was my uncle's childhood friend, Skip, who at 81 years old was LIVING in the fire tower at the top of Eagle Peak and would come down the mountain and into civilization (tiny Reserve, NM) maybe twice or three times a month to load up on supplies and head back up. We were fascinated by everything Skip had to say. And yes, everything he had to say was in no uncertain terms.

When we left, he gave us a ride back down to my uncle's truck; we had walked the last mile up the mountain. I told Skip, "You must see a lot of bears and lions up here." He said, "I ain't lookin' for bears and lions. I'm lookin' for smoke." I'll never forget that line. Again, he was as no-nonsense as they come.

I think about Skip whenever I see the old fire tower at Panther Creek Park--a fire tower that has now been classified as surplus after a study examined by the Daviess County Fiscal Court revealed the expense of repairing it.

Since the court determined that that particular cost would eat up a majority of funds designated for repairing Daviess County's three parks, the recommendation was made to prepare for its dismantling.

The tower has never been open to the public and no date has been set for its removal.

Panther Creek Park's fire tower came from Cloverport, Kentucky, and was a donation. It went up in October of 1992.

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