Rogue River National Forest > Klamath Forest Protective Association > Winema National Forest 38S-6E-9
July 2, 1932: " This office contemplates the erection of a lookout station on what is known as Buck Peak, situated near the center of Section 9, Township 38 South, Range 6 East, W.M., which is an O. and C. section. This point, when plans are completed, command an excellent view of coverage of about one and one-half Townships. To secure this coverage, however, it will be necessary to cut approximately 100 trees averaging 26 inches in diameter, about one-fourth of which are yellow pine, one-half Douglas fir, and one-fourth white fir. Most of the timber is of poor quality. The lookout will cover about 10,200 acres of O. and C. lands if this clearing is made. The timber to be removed is located in the S ½ of SE ¼ of NE ¼, and N ½ of NE ¼ of SW ¼ of section 9, Township 38 South, Range 6 East, covering 40 acres. Of course, it is our desire to have the above lands set aside for the purpose of a lookout station, But in order to expedite the work, would it not be possible to be granted permission to occupy this point and to remove the timber? The project for the erection of the house is approved and money provided, and as soon as it is possible to secure this site we plan to start construction." (Letter to the Regional Forester from Hugh Rankin, Crater National Forest)
1932: Approval with no objections was granted by the Department of the Interior in a letter dated September 3, 1932.
September 27, 1932: " A lookout house is being constructed on Buck Peak, in the Dead Indian district." (Medford Mail Tribune)
1932: A 21-foot tower constructed by the Crater National Forest. The lookout cab was a model L-4A 14x14 foot with a hip roof.
1936: A ten man crew from the South Fork CCC camp worked on telephone line construction. $75.00 was expended on materials.
July 1, 1940: " It was feared other lightning fires would show up later as in the Lake of the Woods district, the Buck Peak lookout alone reported 124 strikes." (Medford Mail Tribune)
August 25, 1940: " The telephone of the Buck Peak lookout station was struck so violently by lightning that the instrument was put completely out of commission." (Medford Mail Tribune)
September 21, 1940: " The standard instrument shelter for fire danger station stations as requisitioned for Buck Peak and others is not necessary where you do not have fan psychrometers. Where only fuel stick scales are used, they may be fastened to the inside wall of the garage or if the garage is too far away from the fire danger plot, a temporary box shelter may be nailed to a post or tree on the site. The standard shelters are relatively expensive to construct and should not be used unless absolutely necessary. Please advise us if we should cancel your order for shelters at Buck Peak and etc." (Memorandum for District Ranger from Forest Supervisor)
1941: At this time the lookout was under the control of the Rogue River National Forest, Lake of the Woods district. Columbia Utilities Company provided telephone service. The lookout operated 110 days this year.
July 21, 1943: " Francis Bush, Rogue River Forest Lookout stationed at Buck Peak in the southeast corner of the forest, didn’t get to finish his evening meal Sunday. As Mr. Bush raised a spoon to his lips with an apricot section on it, lightning struck the lookout tower. Mr. Bush, the spoon and the apricot traveled in different directions. The lookout dizzily picked himself up after a few moments and soon noticed that the lightning had started a fire in his area. He lifted the phone to report the fire and immediately hit the floor for the count of ten. With the aid of his wife Mr. Bush regained his feet and when his head cleared somewhat he disconnected the phone switch with a long wooden stick. The two then set excitedly out for Clover Station, since the rapidly spreading fire must be reported, from where men were dispatched. Mr. Bush returned warily to his own station, probably wondering about that old adage to the effect that lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same spot. Forest officials pointed out today that the lookout towers are equipped with lightning protectors and that even though the lookouts sometimes have distressing experiences, injury is rarely reported. The fire in the Buck Peak area spread over and acre and a half but is now under control." (Medford Mail Tribune)
1948: " If we continue to protect the Buck Lake area, it will be necessary to move out of the Clover Creek Station to Buck Peak and establish a smokechaser lookout. This will not entail much additional expense as the National Forest is willing to make their facilities at Buck Peak available to us. The only change necessary would be construction of four miles of telephone line and we have the wire for this on hand." (KFPA Annual Report)
1951: On a list of KFPA lookouts and locations, dated December 26, noted that the lookout was located on O and C lands.
June 1953: “Fire Watching Family” "If you would like an isolated, scenic, summer hideaway, how about the top of an Oregon mountain? That is where Jack Holmes, his wife Lorraine, and their seven-year-old daughter Sharon spend their summer season, June 15 to October 15. For such is the forest fire season in the tall timber, and all the northwest is dotted with fire lookouts on strategic peaks. The Holmes family is fourteen miles through magnificent pine, fir, and hemlock from the nearest paved road, and 30 miles from Klamath Falls, where the Klamath Forest Protective Association has its headquarters. But this is the family’s fourth year living remotely and “in the air,” and they love it. [During the rest of the year, Jack works at a factory job which he can resign when the outdoors call.] One room atop a thirty-foot tower on 5,200-foot Buck Peak is the Holmes’ summer home. From daybreak to sunset, they are alert for smoke in the vast forests which surround their lookout. In radio contact all day with KFPA headquarters and with eight other peak stations on the same frequency, they also report all four-motored aircraft as part of the new “Operation Skywatch.” Other duties include reporting wind and weather conditions and a steady scanning of the wooded hills with binoculars. A wisp of smoke sets Jack or Lorraine, who is also a qualified lookout, hard at their Osborne fire finder, and then to the radio for a report. Trucks of men and equipment are dispatched from various points, and if the fire is close enough Jack sets out for it, keeping in contact with his mountain home by walkie-talkie. The Holmes insist that they have no time on their hands living on Buck Peak. Sharon reads, plays with her toys, and amuses herself with little walks into the forest. Lorraine keeps her 14x14 house, does the laundry, cooks on a gas stove, and has time for baking. Jack, besides his weather and lookout duties, maintains the local fire roads, chopping out six to eight logs a day that might hamper smoke chasers. Every other day, he drives to a nearby spring and brings back three milk cans of precious water. For his duties, Jack gets $210 a month, while Lorraine makes $50 as an auxiliary lookout. “It’s a fine place to save money!” they say. The Holmes miss fresh foods most of all. Lorraine drives the pickup truck [with two-way radio on all the time] down the low gear road to Klamath Falls every two weeks for supplies, but milk, meats, and vegetables don’t keep without refrigeration, and Buck Peak has no electricity. They rely on canned and dried foods, plus imaginative cooking. Baths are taken in a metal tub in the middle of their one room. The Holmes have no complaints, for this kind of outdoor life is what they enjoy most. Some lookouts use the summer for writing, or for extra college study. Other posts are manned by hermit-like men who don’t like to shave regularly and to whom privacy is a real boon. In any case, it is a job for persons with sharp eyes and a love of the great outdoors, panicky people need not apply." (Buick Magazine)
1958: The lookouts radio number was 591, assigned by the Oregon Department of Forestry.
July 18, 1960: “Teamwork Averts Big Blaze” "A new lookout, a youth from Colorado on his first fire protection job, reported at 7:57 a.m. to KFPA headquarters here that he could see a spot smoke from the Buck Peak lookout station. As his call came in, Wardell received a telephone call from Ned Putnam Logging Company. Putnam, on his way to Ashland by plane, was passing over the area and radioed his shop details of the fire just below him. The blaze, thought to have started moments before when a spark was caused by a track of a skidding cat going over a rock, was burning in heavy slash where bucked logs lay about three miles west of the Klamath River just north of State Route 66 in a Weyerhaeuser logging operation. “Things ran like clockwork,” Wardell said. “Weyerhaeuser logging crews were just going to work and had two dozers within a quarter of a mile of the spot. They got three or four men and a pumper on the job right quick. We sent three men with a pumper from Penny Spring, two men and a power wagon and two men in a cat track and had Les Liston drop 1,000 gallons of water with a PBY. “By 8:39 a.m. we had it trailed and the fire was controlled at about one-half acre.” He added, “We must have had 40 men on it within moments. The KFPA officials had high praise for the lookout who turned in the alarm. He is 19-year-old Laird Millburn, son of an U.S. Air Force Colonel in Colorado, and he plans to return to the University of Colorado after spending the firefighting season here." (Herald and News)
1962: All legs and bracing were replaced, using 12x12 inch legs and 4x8 inch bracing.
June 10, 1963: " The most violent area of the storm was noted at Buck Peak, west of Klamath Falls, where gusts up to 65 miles per hour were registered with winds more generally registered at 40 miles per hour." (Herald and News)
August 16, 1963: “Winema Forest Ranger Reports Wide Spread Vandalism In The Woods” "The first episode developed several weeks ago when someone clipped the wires connecting a telephone receiver to an emergency telephone box near the summer homes on the east side of Lake of the Woods. The telephone linked that area with the fire lookout station at Buck Peak and the Lake of the Woods. When the receiver was disconnected from the telephone the residents of that vicinity were deprived of the only means of communication to report a fire. In addition, communications between Buck Peak and the ranger station were disrupted. The severing of the wires had “opened the three phone circuit” and the lookout could not contact the ranger station, although the latter could call the guard tower. If at that time a fire had broken out in the region under surveillance by Buck Peak lookout, that guard would have been unable to report it to the fire control officer at Lake of the Woods. Several days after the wire cutting, employees of the district traced the disruption of telephone service to the telephone east of the lake. Meanwhile, an electrical storm had blown into the Winema Forest with the result that lightning started fires in the vicinity of Buck Peak. Dispatchers for the district were required to keep in constant contact with the lookout because there was no efficient method for him to call headquarters. The remaining incident was in the form of four fires which had been set intentionally along a forest access road, about 10 miles south of Lake of the Woods, near Buck Peak, last Sunday." (Herald and News - By Dick Biggs)
October 30, 1968: "The Buck Peak lookout will be disposed of by burning during the month of November 1968." (Memo to Regional Forester from Forest Supervisor, Winema)
November 13, 1968: "We will plan to burn the Buck Peak L.O. as stated in the above referenced reply to the R.O. This will be done by R.D.M.A. personnel and will incur no cost to project. However, it will require several man days this spring to meet our obligation for clean-up of the site and disposal of the unburned material. Besides the normal clean-up and disposal of such things as nuts, bolts, roof flashing, stove pipes and etc., there is also a 30 foot section of all metal stairway. This will have to be cut into sections for disposal. We, therefore, request funds for this work as shown on the attached 1300-4." (Memo to Forest Supervisor, Winema from District Ranger, Klamath R.D.)