1931: The Gill Brothers established a lookout using a cupola on the top of their barn. Their only request from the Forest Service was to install a telephone.
1934: In the winter a 40-foot tower with 12 by 12 platform built to give better visibilty than the barn cupola.
August 10, 1935: Panorama photos taken by Albert Arnst.
June 1936: "May, June, July, swiftly the months roll by, soon we will be in the midst of the 1936 fire season, and considering the cooperative lineup for the coming fire season, I think how much nicer it would be if all cooperators were as good as the Gill brothers, two Irish cattlemen living adjacent to the Forest, who are, I believe, without peer as fire cooperators in the region. Their farm buildings are on a site which commands an excellent view of a good share of one ranger district and portions of all other districts in the Forest. In addition to acting as lookouts, both are capable fire fighters, and have always been perfectly willing to go to fires at any and all times during the fire season regardless of the urgency of their own work. In the winter of 1934 they decided that the cupola lookout on their barn was not high enough and did not give them the required visibility of the Forest, so at their own expense and on their own time, they built a 40' lookout tower with a 12x12 ft. platform on a slightly higher piece of ground. This tower, as they had hoped, gives increased visibility, and is an added advantage, of course, to the Forest Service. In return for this cooperation the Forest Service installed a fire finder and put in a telephone at the Gill ranch. (Incidentally, the Gill boys maintain 12 miles of telephone line during the winter period for us free of charge). The Wallowa sincerely appreciates the cooperation given by the Gill boys, and in the course of each season we give them only an insignificant amount of employment, a short period now and then acting as an emergency lookout or as experienced woodsmen in fire suppression. It is felt that in this particular case, at least, the Forest Service is getting far more value from their protection services than it is actually paying for in dollars and cents. Wouldn't the fire game be lots nicer and easier if each and every district and Forest had all the cooperators of this type they needed and desired? W.B. Hall" (Six Twenty-Six)
September 1, 1937: "F.V. Horton, assistant regional forester in charge of recreation, United States Forest Service, declared yesterday on his return from a three weeks' inspection tour. The thing that impressed me more than anything else, however, was the work of two brothers, Tom and Joe Gill, ranchers near the timber area,' Horton said. 'Out of the goodness of their hearts, and without any compensation whatever, they have erected a 40-foot lookout tower from which they keep watch for forest fires during hazardous periods.' " (The Oregonian)
October 25, 1937: "T.S. Gill and J.J. Gill, Wallowa county ranchers, who are known to their friends as Tom and Joe, have manifested an interest in forest fire prevention and control that is believed to be unequaled in the United States, according to United States forest service officials here. The two brothers have erected a lookout tower and maintain their own forest fire observatory in cooperation with the forest service, but at their own expense. They take turns on lookout duty during the fire season. Back in 1931, the Gill brothers told the district ranger that if he would install a telephone at their place near Enterprise they would be glad to co-operate in fire detection and suppression work. As the Gill ranch commands a good view of the forest and only two miles of line was required, the telephone connection was made that fall. At first the brothers used the cupola of their barn as a lookout and the forest service installed an old Osborne fire finder. Then they decided that a tower would be better, so they erected a 36-foot tower on a slightly higher point of ground. All forest service help in the construction of the tower was declined. Now the forest service maintains a standard two-man tool cache, a danger station, one No. 6 Osborne fire finder and a telephone in the tower and another in the house on the Gill Ranch." (The Oregonian)
October 25, 1937: "T.S. and J.J. Gill run competition to the forest service at their Wallowa county ranch--but Uncle Sam doesn't mind a bit. They have erected a 36-foot lookout tower and man it during fire season. The forest service equipped their unofficial station with fire-finding instruments. Tom and Joe, the amateurs, frequently 'spot' blazes before regular lookouts." (LaGrande Observer)
1954: "In 1931 the Gill Bros. told Ranger Hall that if he would put in a telephone at their place they would be glad to cooperate in fire detection and suppression work. As their place commands a good view of the forest and only two miles of line was required to make the telephone connection, the telephone was installed in the fall of 1931. At this time the boys used the cupola of their barn as a lookout and the Forest Service installed therein an old Osborne fire finder. This setup gave excellent service until the fall of 1933, at which time the boys decided that a tower would be better than the cupola on their barn, and proceeded to build a 36' tower on a slightly higher point of ground. The framework of the tower is of poles and it has a 6 x 6 house, with canvas windows, mounted on it. They declined all Forest Service help in the construction of this tower." (Written by J.F. Irwin, October 8, 1937) (Historical Sketches of the Wallowa National Forest)