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January 28, 2013

Forest Fire Suppression, 1910s-1960s

Following the devastating fires of 1910, early fire detection became a priority within the Forest Service. To help aid detection, lookout towers began to be built on national forests throughout the country. These building efforts were further aided during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, who worked on numerous lookout building projects across the nation.

The photos contained in this set represent just a small segment of the images of forest fire suppression efforts found in the Forest History Society Photograph Collection.

Twin Sisters fire lookout observatory, Colorado National Forest, Larimer County. A female lookout views the surrounding area. Date: September 1917.

Buck Mountain lookout at elevation 4768 feet overlooks the Blue River lookout and McRae Creek drainages in the Blue River Ranger District, Willamette National Forest, Oregon. Date: 1960.

Elmer Rahm, Stonefort Dispatcher, plotting cross shots from towers on the radial map. Shawnee National Forest, Illinois.  Date: May 24, 1938.

Fuji Lookout, Willamette National Forest, Oregon. One man uses alidade while another communicates via telephone. Date: 1924

Ranger Peak Lookout, San Bernardino National Forest, California. 20 foot wooden tower with 8 x 8 foot wood cab. Date: July, 1938.

Chimney Rock Lookout Tower from the Southeast side. San Juan National Forest, Colorado. Date: October 14, 1942

Sisters Lookout Tower, 105 feet tall tree platform on laddered pine, Deschutes National Forest, Oregon. Date: September, 1921

Devil's Head Fire Lookout showing glassed-in observatory and Miss Helen Dowe the lookout for the season of 1919. Pike National Forest, Colorado. Date: July 1919

Blue Point lookout station, log cabin with cupola, Payette National Forest, Idaho, twenty miles east of Cascade. Date: 1920

Pine pole lookout, Clark National Forest, Missouri [now Mark Twain National Forest]. Project by Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees Camp F-7, Bunker, Missouri. Date: 1937

Devil's Head lookout building from the cove west of the Rock, Pike National Forest, Colorado. Date: September 9, 1948

Ladders leading to observatory, Devil's Head Fire Lookout, Pike National Forest, Colorado. Miss Helen Dowe, lookout season 1919, climbing first ladder. Date: 1919

Ranger Griffin locating distant forest fires on the map, by means of compass, prominent peaks and rivers, which can be seen quite distinctly from the top of Mt. Silcox Lookout Station, while on fire patrol duty. Cabinet National Forest, Montana. Date: 1909

Locating a forest fire from top of Satula [Satulah] Mountain, North Carolina. Chimney Top Mt. and Shortoff Mt. in distance. Date: 1916

Mr. Guy R. Emlet, Senior Forest Guard, at Baker Butte Lookout Tower. Coconino National Forest, Arizona. Date: June, 1939

Miss Helen Dowe at Devil's Head Fire Lookout. Osborne Fire Finder. 1919. Date: 1919

Lookout at Striped Peak Lookout Station, Coeur d'Alene National Forest, Idaho, locating a forest fire with the aid of map and alidade. Date: Unknown

Fire Dispatcher's office. Wellston Guard Station, Michigan. Dispatcher plotting location of fire from information received by radio. Date: August 1, 1938

Pilot Carl Nelson (left) and District Ranger Bill Trygg with the Forest Service Seabee Patrol plane on the shore of Thomas Lake, Minnesota. Daily patrol flights are made during fire danger season. Date: August 21, 1948

Fire dispatcher in Waycross, Georgia, District Forester's office. He uses shortwave radio to send out instructions to crews on the fire line. Date: ca. 1940s

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