Clearwater National Forest Lookouts
A Tree Lookout
"When I came out here a lookout was a tower, well of a sudden its' the cabin, then all of a sudden it's the tree, each layer has its own history. On all our lookouts there was probably an earlier structure there. So it is kind of like you turn around and you see a tree lookout standing there. Well, what is the history with it? How long was it used? We assume it was used for a certain period of time but you could have used them up to the 1940s. You could have used them up to the 1950s. Just because we didn't talk about them anymore doesn't mean they were totally abandoned, were not used."
"It's kind of neat to find one because you look up there and you go, wow. You climb that thing and you have to put it into the climb as you go, putting it in as you go. And you get to the top, you build a platform and then you build a box on it. One board at a time. It's a tree fort. And then it swings back and forth in the air. It's a little different than just sort of building a tower. It's sort of like flying by the seat of your pants."
Clarke Mountain Lookout
Another historic structure on the Clearwater is the Clarke Mountain Lookout. The location was first used as a lookout in the 1920s. Currently there's an L-4 style building there that was built in 1952. Though abandoned and in disrepair, it commands a stunning vantage point and may be restored at some time in the future.
"We have some of them like Clarke Mountain, time takes its toll on them and it takes money to maintain them. When it was part of the fire organization and we were out looking at those places they were maintained but they were manned all the time. Leave a building alone for a couple of years unmanned, see what happens. The snows in the winter, winds that come through, a tree that comes down and hits a guide wire. Is there anybody there to repair that...used to be all the time. Just anything you have it's a facility, takes a lot of work and care. And you have to have people there taking care of it. I think maybe one day Clark Mountain gets restored. Then I would say that's going to get rented because there are a lot of people who would want to stay there. It's a beautiful view. It just needs to get fixed up and people will absolutely rent it."
The 1941 cabin at Walde Lookout is already part of the rental program, and it was recently refurbished to restore its historic character. Unlike other cabin rentals on the forest this cabin is only available in the winter. That's because the imposing steel lookout next door is still used in the summer and fall for fire detection. During fire season the lookouts stay in the cabin below this hundred foot tower built in 1939.
Osier Ridge Lookout
Osier Ridge Lookout is another active lookout on the Clearwater Forest. Wade Champion brings a passion for the job to this tower.
"I love the forest and I like the feeling of knowing that I'm doing my part to help protect and save it. I get a lot of satisfaction from it. It can be exciting at times. When you spot a fire and call it in and they are able to stop it you feel really good about it."