June 23, 1928: "Construction of a new primary lookout on the Bell place about four miles east of Elkton is now underway, according to H.Q. Brown, district fire warden, who expects to open this new lookout in the near future. An 80-foot steel tower is to be built on the summit of the ridge, which commands an excellent view of all of the surrounding country. The lookout is situated on government owned land, which at Mr. Brown's request has been withdrawn from entry. He has obtained 40 acres and will build a lookout and fireman's station for the accommodation of two men. The station will be operated in conjunction with the other lookouts of that vicinity." (Roseburg News-Review)
July 29, 1928: "Construction has just been completed on a unique but important forest lookout, 4 1/2 miles southeast of Elkton. The observing station was built by the Douglas fire patrol and commands timbered areas of western Lane, Douglas and Coos counties. Tops were cut from two giant Douglas fir trees that stand on the very summit of a high ridge. A platform was built on the tops of these trees, 117 feet from the ground, and fire-finding instruments, telephones and other equipment installed. A few of the limbs left, at the top of each of the trees serve to keep the trees alive and provide a partial windbreak and protection for the lookout. The two trees used for this station have a diameter at the butt of 30 inches, and the diameter at the point where the platform was built was 12 inches. The platform is bolted to the trees and is well braced. The trees are laced together with cables, and heavy guy wires prevent swaying. The only means of reaching the platform is by the 120-foot ladder. The station is manned by J.B. Fullerton, Douglas fire patrol employe. Phil Briggs, V.T. Jackson, Peck Poole and Victor Blakely were in charge of construction." (The Sunday Oregonian)
September 1928: "What is probably the most unique, as well as one of the highest lookout stations in Oregon, was recently completed near Elkton, in Douglas County, by the Douglas County Fire Patrol Association. The lookout is built in the tops of two trees, and is 114 feet above the ground. The trees, Douglas fir, 30 inches in diameter at the butts, were limbed to a height of 114 feet, where they have a diameter of 12 inches. A few limbs were left at the top of the trees in an effort to keep them alive. The platform and house measures 8 x 14 feet, and is reached by a ladder set 10 feet out from the base of the tree and rising on a slant. The ladder, which was constructed in 10-foot sections, is braced with timbers every five feet and is also guyed with six wires. As a measure of stability in resisting winds the trees, which are 12 feet apart, are braced with 6 x 6 timbers, both at the top and near the middle and a cable and turnbuckle are also used. Five guy wires brace the tower, which is entered through the floor, as an additional precaution. The roof is of heavy canvas. Equipment is composed of an Osborne fire finder, telephone and usual furniture. The lookout commands nearly all of Douglas County, southern Lane and Western Coos Counties. It was necessary to slash 10 acres of trees and brush around the base of the trees. The lookout's quarters are on the ground. One of the best features of this unique station was its reasonable cost. Material came to $128.61 and labor $142.50, a total of $271.11. The Douglas County Fire Patrol Association is comprised of 700 private timber owners, Harvey L. Brown of Roseburg, being supervising warden." (The Timberman)
November 22, 1933: "D.O. Weaver of Roseburg has been at Elkton working on the Bell lookout." (Roseburg News-Review)
March 19, 1934: "Phil A. Briggs, foreman in charge of the telephone construction line at the Tyee CCC camp, was in town Saturday. The 27-mile line from Camp Tyee to Bellmont lookout has just been completed." (Roseburg News-Review)
April 1934: The CCC boys just completed 27 miles of telephone line up Yellow Butte and Bell Mountain." (The Forest Log)
June 10, 1934: Panorama photos taken by James Rittenhouse.
July 10, 1934: "Lew Rowe, of Elkton, has been stationed on the Bell lookout by the forest service. It will be his duty to watch for fires during the summer." (Roseburg News-Review)
November 1, 1934: "Reference is made to your postcard of October 31st. It is not anticipated that any improvements or work will be done on the Bell Lookout road. I do know that for the next six months period, the betterment of this road is not included in our work plans. At this time, no assurance can be given that a new road or the betterment of the now existing one will be started at any time in the near future." (Letter to Minnie Bell from Regional Forest Inspector)
March 5, 1935: "D.O. Weaver, state fire inspector; Fred Southwick, district fire warden, and Ira DeBolt, left yesterday for Bell lookout, in the Elkton vicinity, to spend the week attending to their regular duties." (Roseburg News-Review)
October 15, 1937: "J.L. Rowe has finished work at the Bell lookout and is spending a few days at Roseburg." (Roseburg News-Review)
October 13, 1938: "J.L. Rowe has been called from the Bell lookout where he has been stationed this summer." (Roseburg News-Review)
October 11, 1939: "J.L. Rowe has been taken off the Bell lookout for the summer." (Roseburg News-Review)
September 27, 1940: "J.L. Rowe has finished his work at the Bell lookout for the year." (Roseburg News-Review)
July 9, 1941: "J.L. Rowe spent the Fourth at his home in Elktoin. Mr. Rowe is cooking for the Douglas Co. Fire Patrol crew while they are cleaning trails. Mr. Rowe expects to go to work at the Bell lookout in a few weeks." (Roseburg News-Review)
1941: "There should be a new 110 foot tower built at Bell Lookout. The original tower was built in 1927, using two trees. These trees have decayed to such an extent that they are unsafe for use." (Douglas FPA - Oregon Department of Forestry Annual Report - 1941)
May 1942: "The 125-foot Richfield beacon that has stood on Highway 99 about three miles north of Roseburg for the past ten years or more and up to two years ago served as a guide for night-flying planes, now goes into useful service as a lookout tower on Bell mountain near Elkton. For the past twelve years the Bell mountain tower has consisted of two trees in which a platform had been constructed 110 feet above the ground. An inspection this spring showed that the trees had decayed to such an extent as to become dangerous. The Douglas association purchased the beacon, including all the signs, wiring, flood lights, transformer and other electrical fixtures, at a fraction of the cost of a new tower. It has already been dismantled and transported to the new location, where it is now being constructed. It will be ready for use by the middle of May. The tower is a three-legged affair, all constructed of galvanized steel. The top is a triangle with sides six and one-half feet long. On this is being constructed an 8 x 8 house for the lookout. Mechanical minded members of the Douglas association are attempting to work out some sort of an elevator whereby the lookout can transport himself from the ground to the top of the tower." (The Forest Log)
August 3, 1942: "The steel from the Richfield tower, which was near Roseburg, has been moved to the Bell lookout for a lookout. The cage on the top is now being built. J.L. Rowe has the job as lookout man." (The Eugene Guard)
August 17, 1942: "The new Bell lookout tower is in use. The tower was the Richfield tower near Winchester. The steel was taken down and hauled by truck. A cage has been built on top of the tower for the lookout man. The walls of the cage are boarded up part way and the rest is glassed in. An elevator has been made to take the lookout man up the tower, J.L. Rowe is stationed there this season." (The Eugene Guard)
November 3, 1942: "J.L. Rowe has been called from the Bell lookout where he has been stationed the past summer." (Roseburg News-Review)
December 22, 1942: "The new lookout station is being manned twenty-for hours a day. The school children care for it during the day. The rest of the time is divided between Mrs. Leslie Hancock, Mrs. Ida Thomas, Mrs. Joseph Hudson, and Mrs. Edith Gates. They each have a list of people who are to take their turn watching." (Roseburg News-Review)
1942: The 130-foot three leg tower was topped with an 8x8 cab. The access to the top was by way of an elevator that ran up the inside of the tower and operated by hand. At the end of the season the elevator was locked in place at the top of the tower and the person securing the lookout then climbed down one of the legs of the structure. In the spring someone had to climb the tower leg to bring the elevator down and ready the lookout for the season's work.
October 12, 1962: The lookout tower was damaged during the Columbus Day storm that damaged many lookout structures throughout western Oregon.
1963: The lookout was not staffed this year. Repairs made following the storm resulted in a 105-foot tower with a new cab and stairs replaced the elevator.
1963: "The cost to replace Bell Mtn. Lookout was $3,349.00 for material and $1,681.00 for labor. This tower oresented a problem in that it was a three legged metal tower. Approximately 50' of the old tower still existed. We had to design and draw up plans for the top 50' of the tower. Also, we designed stairs. An elevator had been used before. The tower was finished during the summer along with a retractable lookout house on top. By retracting the house we feel the wind resistance will be reduced and hope the tower will not topple again." (Douglas DFA Annual Report)
1965: The lookout was discontinued after the fire season.
1978: The lookout tower was sold for salvage and removed. The cabin was moved to the Coos Bay area to be used as a fishing cabin.
National Geodetic Survey
DESIGNATION - BELL MTN RESET PID - PC0968 STATE/COUNTY- OR/DOUGLAS COUNTRY - US USGS QUAD - YELLOW BUTTE (1987)
DESCRIBED BY NATIONAL GEODETIC SURVEY 1980 (CLN) THE SURFACE MARK WAS DESTROYED DURING THE DISMANTLEING OF THE LOOKOUT TOWER. THE UNDERGROUND MARK AND REFERENCE MARK 2 WERE RECOVERED. A NEW SURFACE MARK AND REFERENCE MARK 3 WERE ESTABLISHED AT THIS TIME. THE AZIMUTH MARK WAS SEARCHED FOR BUT WAS NOT RECOVERED. IT IS BELIEVED THAT IT IS STILL IN PLACE BUT COVERED BY BRUSH.