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Ranger School Alumni Flock to Wanakena


WANAKENA, N.Y. - Several hundred people are expected to gather Aug. 4 and 5 at the New York State Ranger School in Wanakena to celebrate the school's 66th reunion.

A highlight of the annual gathering will be the dedication of a reconstructed fire tower on the school's Cathedral Rock. The tower will be dedicated to the forest rangers and fire wardens who traditionally protected the Adirondacks against the threat of forest fires.

Ranger School alumni, students and former staffers worked for nearly 30 years to relocate the tower, which was no longer used by the state, from nearby Tooley Pond Mountain. Led by Kermit Remele, an emeritus faculty member at the Ranger School, the group of volunteers dismantled the tower and transported the pieces to Cathedral Rock. Over the years, the 65-foot tower was reconstructed.

The tower is topped by a stainless steel stan-helio to commemorate the device designed more than 100 years ago by Adirondack surveyor Verplanck Colvin. The stan-helio, originally made from tin, reflected sunlight and was used to measure distances. The new model, with weatherproof mirrors, was made by Wanakena resident Paul Peacock. His father, Roy, was a member of the Ranger School's first graduating class in 1913.

The dedication is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5.

The annual reunion draws about 200 alumni and more than 300 family members to the campus. They fill motels from Watertown to Tupper Lake, occupy the school's dorm rooms and camp out on the campus athletic field.

The Ranger School is part of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse. Students spend their freshman year at another institution, then transfer to the Ranger School for their sophomore year. They earn associate in applied science degrees after a rigorous year of classroom and field study. The Ranger School was founded in 1912 and is the oldest forest technology school in North America.

This weekend's events will include guided walks and van tours through the school's Dubuar Memorial Forest, a boat trip around nearby Cranberry Lake, a slide show about invasive plants and loon banding on Cranberry Lake, and opportunities to participate in a golf tournament and a fun run. There will also be activities for children.