Gordon Airbnb promises stunning views – Superior Telegram

At the intersection of the nonprofit and Airbnb lies a piece of Northwoods history in Douglas County.

Since Memorial Day weekend, the Gordon Fire Tower has welcomed dozens of visitors to the area. They played cards in the rustic cabin, roasted marshmallows over the fire pit, visited local parks and caught sunsets from the 100ft tower cab — all for $99 a night.

Visitors have left rave reviews. The cabin/tower combo has been rated as cute, peaceful, unique, and breathtaking.

“Hands down one of the coolest trips we’ve booked through Airbnb,” wrote one September guest.

While being handed the keys to your own private fire tower is part of the site’s appeal, not everyone takes up the challenge.

“Some people didn’t make it all the way,” said property manager Jesse Smith. “It’s the first thing I ask them on the day they leave, if they’ve made it to the top. And some of them didn’t. It’s quite high up there.

Even those who make three or four flights get great views, he said.

People climb the Gordon Fire Tower during an open day on Sunday October 3, 2021. Jed Carlson/Superior Telegram

Smith said the site is booked until Halloween, when it will close for the winter. The majority of people who have booked stays come from outside the region. They learned about it via Facebook, Reddit and news reports.

“There’s a lot of people from Milwaukee and the (Twin) Cities who came out,” Smith said Oct. 3. “The people who just left today were from Milwaukee. They loved it.”

The Gordon Fire Tower is owned and operated by the Friends of the Bird Sanctuary. It was decommissioned in 2015 and is expected to be razed until efforts to save the tower are launched in 2017.

The momentum has only grown since.

The funds needed to purchase the tower were raised through the sale of t-shirts and artwork, the sale of commemorative plaques on the tower’s stair steps, stalls during local events and donations. Volunteers spend hours clearing brush and maintaining trails.


The steps leading up to the Gordon Fire Tower bear the names of the sponsors during an open day on Sunday October 3, 2021. Jed Carlson/Superior Telegram

The group intended to open the site up to rental campsites to help pay for maintenance. Two years ago, Mike and Dorothy O’Brien donated a cabin to the association. It was both a challenge and an opportunity.

“A lot of money went into setting up the hut, but we knew then that the hut would be our source of income,” said Brian Finstad, board member of the Friends of the Bird Sanctuary.

The property opened as an Airbnb rental this spring, and it has proven more popular than band members anticipated.

“We were hoping to make enough to pay for insurance for the year, and that’s enough to pay for insurance for four years,” said Smith, who is also a board member.


The cabin, which is available for charter, is ready for next tenants on Sunday, October 3, 2021, at the base of the Gordon Fire Tower. Jed Carlson / Upper Telegram

Additional funds raised from rentals could be used to add amenities like running water and a septic tank to the site or for future maintenance.

“The entire exterior of the fire tower should be re-galvanized periodically,” Finstad said.


registration on Airbnb

states what the spot offers – and does not offer. The one-room cabin has electricity and a compost toilet. There is non-potable water available to put out the campfire, as well as hookups for RVs and clearances for tents.

“There was a family here, they go camping every summer. The parents were really happy to stay indoors this year. Their teenagers were happy to finally have their own tent,” Smith said.

The red refrigerator in the “kitchen” section of the cabin was recently donated by a guest. There is a fan, radio and electric heater, but no air conditioning. Cooking involves bringing a personal grill or green camping stove, or using the campfire. A local steelworker recently donated a custom metal screen for the fireplace.

The pieces fell into place to turn the preserved site into a rental property, Finstad said, something not all nonprofits will be able to do. It allowed the group to preserve the historic tower for future generations while opening up the neighborhood to new visitors.


John Hubler, left, pets a dog as he chats with Brian Finstad outside the Gordon Fire Tower cabin during an open house on Sunday October 3, 2021. Jed Carlson/Superior Telegram

“There are a lot of people in the area who really care, but eventually they’ll get tired of giving money, so that’s really the long-term plan, and it’s working really well for the first year only,” Smith said. . “I look forward to improving the area.”

Public tours of the Gordon Fire Tower and Cabin take place every second Sunday from 1-4 p.m. On October 3, visitors to the site included Chuck and Brenda Warner of Minong, who were eager to see the commemorative stair tread they purchased, third high.

“I’ve been up there,” said Chuck Warner, who grew up in Gordon. “As a kid, we always went up there. We would go up there and watch the fires with the fireman.”

“You’re much older now, honey,” Brenda Warner said.

As with Airbnb rentals, tours have been popular. On average, 20 to 30 people stop by each time the tower is open to the public.

“This year we tested the waters to see, for example, if people were even going to show up, and they showed up in such massive numbers that I would personally like to see every weekend next year,” Finstad said.

Visit the

Facebook page

for more information on public tours, as well as updates on the 2022 Airbnb rental season.


Visitors take photos of the Gordon Fire Tower during an open day on Sunday October 3, 2021. Jed Carlson/Superior Telegram

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