Dissecting the eastern part of Jones Township along the Continental Divide, the former grade of the Pittsburg, Shawmut and Northern railroad runs through the Wildwood area of Jones Township. The railroad abandoned the grade in the mid 1940’s. The former old railroad grade was a “highway” between St. Marys and a local bar (the old train station) in Clermont for bar-hopping off-roaders and snowmobiles until it was closed to traffic by the Game Commission. Today, most of the old railroad grade has been upgraded and now serves as the main road for the extensive shale gas exploration in the area by Seneca Resources.

After more than 2.6 million acres of forest land had burned in the years between 1913 and 1922, the state began constructing fire towers at strategic locations to provide an early system of alerting forestry officials of wildfires. The Elk State Forest District # 13 was charged with the protection of 720,000 acres of forest land in mostly Elk and Cameron Counties. Between 1920 and 1925 seven fire towers were constructed on the Elk State Forest.

The Wildwood Fire Tower was constructed by the Pennsylvania Department of Forests & Waters in 1922. It stood near a ridge along the continental divide just east of the Shawmut Railroad grade in the Straight Creek area of Jones Township. The Wildwood tower provided a southern and easterly view overlooking the headwaters of the Driftwood Branch of the Sinnemahoning as well a northern and westerly view of the East Branch of the Clarion River watershed.

This tower was connected by telephone to the Home Telephone Company at the former village of Straights.

The fire tower was dismantled in 1976. After the widespread use of wireless radios and aircraft, many of the fire towers across the state were dismantled.

Today, the site of the former fire tower is occupied by a 330-foot state telecommunications tower and a 12′ x 16′ equipment shelter which was constructed in 2002 as part of the Commonwealth’s Statewide Communications Network.

The Wildwood Fire Tower
The remains of the concrete piers of the old tower are the only remains that can still be located at the former tower site.
Other fire towers constructed within the Elk State Forest included the Winslow Hill Tower (dismantled in 2001) and Boot Jack Tower in Elk County, the Whittimore, Brooks Run and Three Runs (dismantled in 1979) towers in Cameron County.

Today, the Wildwood area of Jones Township is a highly developed area for shale gas exploration. Seneca Resources has developed several shale gas well sites throughout the area.