Fire Tower

Fire Tower

Skus grew up when forest lookout towers were critical for fire control.  The tower at Chelan Butte Lookout, built by the CCC in 1938, was manned until 1984.  It was recently moved to Entiat, Washington and set up for an exhibit with short trails and information signs.  With frequent summer thunder storms and only 13 inches of annual rainfall, the forests and grasslands in eastern Washington needed careful monitoring.  Now,  monitoring is more intense with airplanes and electronic surveillance.  Then, young summer workers, often college students, hiked in (and up) to the towers with packs of food and personal supplies, all of which had to be packed up the ladder-like stairs.  The tower person was isolated for days at a time, dependent on radio contact with the outside and the regular delivery of supplies which might have to be packed in on a mule if roads didn’t reach the tower.  Heavy copper wires thread down each leg of the tower from the top to solid grounding to protect the tower and its occupant from lightening damage, and the person counting lightening strikes in the middle of the room stood on a rubber mat.  A thunder storm experienced from the small enclosure at the top of a wooden tower with rain, maybe hail, thunder and lightening, would be either terrifying or exhilarating, depending on one’s personality.

    

The photos are the tower itself and detail of the larder box which was accessed from a trap door in the floor of the living area, screened to keep out rodents and flies, and far above the reach of bears.  Bears must have  been one reason for narrow, steep stairs, also.  A bear climbing up to one’s bedroom/dining room would be a suitable theme for nightmares.

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