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High Knob Tower construction begins

By Jim Conrad, jconrad@wcyb.com
Published On: Jul 12 2013 04:48:03 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 11 2013 04:41:13 PM CDT

What was destroyed by an arsonist in 2007 is rising from the ashes as construction on the new High Knob Tower in Wise County has begun.

WISE COUNTY, Va. -

What was destroyed by an arsonist in 2007 is rising from the ashes as construction on the new High Knob Tower in Wise County has begun.

We visited the site and talked with those who've been working to restore the mountain icon that has taken 5-years to get started.

From the groundbreaking ceremony last summer high atop High Knob in Wise County to real earth-moving by a local contractor, work is finally underway to rebuild High Knob Tower.

"It's absolutely, and I think it's historic in itself in that it reflects both a long tradition of the residents and tourists being able to come to a tower and look over the beautiful natural beauty of the region," Lu Ellsworth with the High Knob Enchancement Corporation said.

A tower that was built in 1978 was destroyed by an arsonist's fire on Halloween night in 2007, which left the region without one of its most popular spots for seeing a remarkable view of five states from one of its highest vantage points.

Even without the tower visitors still came, but now the area is closed for construction. "At this time for the safety of the public and because they do have heavy equipment operating here I've closed the Knob and an area around it so people won't be tempted. It's still a location for people to come up and we've had a lot of people expressing interest in coming up, but I can't keep it open," district ranger Jorge Hersel says.

But when completed, the public can expect an icon in concrete, iron and stone; the estimated time for completion is eight months. "That's really the maximum time unless we really get foul weather, because I think they really hope to have it done before winter closes in," Ellsworth says.

Considering the time it has taken, almost five years, to the raise funds for the project, some of the frills were removed so fundraising is continuing. "We will again begin, whether it's next month or the next several months as we move toward opening, to see if we can raise some additional dollars to complete the project. But the tower itself and the access to it is all under this current contract," Ellsworth adds.

With completion, another celebration and gathering for what will become a monument to the beauty of the region.