The True Story Behind Pequot's Historic Fire Tower

Wayne Chamberlain, Pequot Lakes, MN

Many people think that the Pequot Fire Tower that sits high a top the hill just East of town was built by the DNR so foresters could watch the surrounding area for forest fires. But I have discovered the fire towers original purpose was much different.

Many people know of Paul Buynan the Legendary Logger and Babe his big blue ox. But Babe was not your ordinary ox, he was so big, he measured 42 and 1/2 axe handles and a plug of tobacco from tip to tip of his mammoth set of horns. Babe was so strong, he could pull the bends out of a crooked river, straighten a windy road, pull a whole section of woods down to the river and even move mountains if needed.

Babe also had an appetite that rivaled his strength and when working hard often consumed a hundred bales of hay each day. Back then, most farmers used bailing wire to hold the bales together. The bailing twine that is used today had not as yet been invented.

Now Big Ole, Paul's blacksmith was in charge of keeping Babe properly shoed and healthy. One of the problems Ole encountered was that the wire used to bail the hay kept getting stuck between Babe's teeth. The wire was very uncomfortable for Babe and he hated the having the wire removed. Babe often became ornery when he had to stand still for so long and he missed lunch. Needless to say, Big Ole always had trouble catching Babe when it time to clean his teeth.

Once a week, Big Ole and three of Paul's strongest lumberjacks had to climb a rope hand over hand up to the top of Babes back and then hiked up babe's neck to the top of his head. Ole would sit in a chair that was tied at one end of the rope and the three strong lumberjacks would slowly lower Ole down Babe's Nose.

Once in position, Babe would open his cavernous mouth and moo " Ahhhhh". Ole then went to work cutting the bailing wire from between Babe's teeth with a wire cutter. It was a long process as the chair often swung in the wind. It was often well passed suppertime when he finished the job. Ole and the lumberjacks seldom got back on the ground and to bed before midnight.

While cleaning Babe's teeth one day Ole got to thinking. There had to be a faster and easier way to remove the wire from Babe's teeth? The next day he discussed the problem with Paul. If only a way could be found to prevent the chair from moving when Babe moved or from swinging in the wind. And climbing the rope to and from Babes back often took more time than actually cleaning his Teeth. It wasn't long before the whole camp was talking about the problem and offering solutions.

About a week latter, one of Sourdough Sam's chore boys asked " Why not build a tower? He had seen Big Ole climb trees and he was faster than any man in camp except Paul himself. Ole was a lot faster climbing trees that the rope they used to climb all the way to the top of Babe's back! After thinking about it for awhile Paul and Big Ole decided that a metal tower seemed to be the best solution anyone had come up with.

Johnny Inkslinger suggested that building the tower on a hill would save both time and steel. So the tower was built on the hill just outside of Pequot Lakes. Once completed, it was time to test it. The next morning, after breakfast the whole camp turned out to watch. Ole picked up his wire cutters and raced up the tower's steps. Babe hardly had time to finish breakfast before Ole was ready.

Babe opened his mouth and Ole started to work finishing one side in record time. On command, Babe moved his head to the other side of the tower and Ole completed the job. It was so much easier working on the solid footing of the tower's platform that Ole finished the job and was back on the ground just in time for lunch!

The tower had worked out better than anyone had expected. Ole could now clean Babe's teeth in just a few short hours instead of the whole day and half the night it had taken before! Babe was happy because he didn't have to miss lunch. The three lumberjacks happily returned to work in their beloved woods on the logging crew.

Now whenever Babe needed his teeth cleaned, Big Ole would stand at the bottom of the tower and holler. The playful Babe would moo back and the race was on. Ole raced up the tower's steps as Babe made a mad dash for the tower. Sometimes Ole was at the top waiting for Babe and sometimes Babe was waiting for Ole. It wasn't long before a little shack was built on the towers platform to keep the platform and Ole dry and out of the weather. The tower served Ole well for many years.

When the logging was over in this area Paul moved on to the Dakota's. Before leaving, Paul stopped to say good bye to a new -found, friend. They had worked together a number of times and had become close friends. Paul appreciated what his friend was trying to do and saw a seed of greatness deep within him. Paul gave him the tower and wished him well.

That friend was Smokey The Bear.