A Bear Hill Tower Photo Essay
I took the kids up to Bear Hill Tower on Good Friday. We call it, “tower 2,” because of course the Tower is Wright’s Tower. It had been years since I’d been up Bear Hill and it was a shorter walk than I remember. While Wright’s Tower is locked during the off-season, Bear Hill Tower is not, so we were able to go up to the top to take in the view. You don’t get the expansive view of Boston that you get from Wright’s Tower, but it is still well worth the effort and you get a 360° view, unlike Wright’s Tower.
I’m pretty sure this tower gets a lot less traffic than Wright’s Tower. The difference in view is part of it. But it’s also not very visible from the road. A lot of people just don’t know it’s there. And the parking situation is quite different. Parking for Wright’s Tower is quite convenient in a small lot next to Bellevue Pond on South Border Road. But parking for Bear Hill Tower is in an old lot by I93 and doesn’t look particularly appealing. At Bellevue Pond, it’s clear there is a lot to do, with picnic tables and paths visible from the lot.
The tower itself is pretty run down, but still serviceable. The most striking feature is probably the enormous MWRA water holding tank next to the tower, but we’ll get to that. It turns out to be a really, really nice location for taking photographs. And I’m not talking about sweeping landscape panoramas here, I’m talking about artistic photographs of a tower that has seen some better days – like this one of the circular stairs at the base of the tower.
The top of the tower has the semi-spherical steel supports from whatever used to cover the top. Frankly, I’m not sure if it was wood or canvas or what. This is a wide angle shot, pretty much the full frame of the photo I took. You can actually see some distortion from the lens in the curvature of the central post. This is the view looking roughly North through the tower. I93 is hidden by the opposite side of the tower and the nearer buildings are in Stoneham. There is a pretty nice view across the Fells too, including glimpses of the reservoirs in Winchester.
And this next photo is the top of the enormous water holding tank. It’s easy to see why this is such a tempting target. People bring rocks, sticks, bricks and anything else they can find up the tower and then hurl them onto the top of the tank.
After a couple of flights of concrete circular stairs, the final three or so are of iron. You can walk around the landings between floors. This is the view looking down from the fourth or so level where you can see the staircase I’m on taking the photo, the landing of the floor below and the side of the tank.
The tower’s entrance gates and windows are dressed with these wrought iron arrows that have clearly seen better days.
Bear Hill Tower is accessible from exit 35 on I93 South. If you’re driving up from Boston, you have to exit on route 28 and then take North Border Road around and under I93. The parking lot is the first left after you cross under the highway.