Clatskanie Mountain fire tower fully restored
It has taken more than 10 years to relocate the Clatskanie Mountain fire lookout tower to its new home at the Hopkins Demonstration Forest in Beavercreek.
But now, the tower is now ready for education programs at the forest and will be a unique place for children and adults to learn about the history of lookouts and their role in wildland fire control throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The Clatskanie Mountain fire lookout tower stands 65-feet tall. At the top is a 7-foot-by-7-foot cabin surrounded by a catwalk. The tower was originally erected in 1954 as part of the Oregon Department of Forestry's fire protection program in the north Oregon Coast Range east of Astoria.
In June 1984, the tower was decommissioned and moved to the Magness Memorial Tree Farm, near Wilsonville, where it was operated by the World Forestry Center as an educational exhibit. As the years went by, the tower was damaged by vandalism and could no longer be properly maintained.
In June 2008, Forests Forever, Inc. entered into an agreement with the Oregon Department of Forestry to relocate the tower to the Hopkins Demonstration Forest for use as a part of its youth and adult education programs.
"This fire tower project has been a real labor of love," said Ken Everett, the executive director of Forests Forever, Inc. and a professional forester.
Everett spearheaded the relocation and reconstruction of the tower over the years.
"Besides dismantling the entire tower to move from Magness to Hopkins, the project had to be permitted with the county, all kinds of engineering requirements had to be met, there was re-fabrication needed of several components, and it wasn't easy to find the technical help to reconstruct everything according to the original design. And of course, all of this took time and money — and a lot of both," said Everett.
According to Everett, one of the project goals was to find people with the knowledge and skills to accurately restore the lookout tower as it had been originally built, and that took time, too. The steel tower stood alone in the sky at Hopkins for nine years until Everett found Fire Tower Restoration, a specialty company located in Bloomingdale, New York. The company not only knew all about the historic design of the tower, but was able to fabricate all of the components needed to original specifications.
The company sent a crew of their staff to Oregon in December 2019 to reconstruct the tower's cabin, all done on top of the metal tower.
With the cabin and catwalk finally completed, Hopkins volunteers spent much of the past year replacing all the stair treads, railings and safety fencing for public access.
The Hopkins Demonstration Forest is planning a public dedication and will open the tower for students and the public later in 2021.
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