Fremont National Forest > Klamath Forest Protective Association 31S-14E-23
October 1930: "On the first day of hunting season two hunters reported to the Foster Flat fireman that they had found a lightning fire which had been smouldering for several days, and that they had kicked a line around it. One of the men was sick, and they were on their way out, so the fireman got a description of the location and went after it. He spent two days hunting for it and could not find it. No smoke was visible. On September 19 the Sycan Lookout picked up the smoke for about 20 minutes late in the afternoon. By the time the fireman had gotten into the area the smoke had again disappeared. With the help of two of Weyerhaeuser's cruisers who were working in the area, he got on the lookout's line of sight at daylight, and walked to the fire without the least difficulty. This is only one of several times that use of the compass has enabled firemen to find difficult fires this season." (Six Twenty-Six)
May 21, 1931: " This site was selected as an auxiliary lookout with plans to build a one room cabin and a thirty-five foot wood tower." (Lake County Examiner)
June 30, 1931: "Construction work will start about July 5 on a 35 foot wood lookout tower on Sycan Butte in the Silver Lake District. It is estimated it will take about 15 days to complete this job. The work is under the supervision of District Ranger Young. The road to the top of Sycan Butte is nearing completion and telephone line construction will start soon as the line to Pumice Butte is finished." (Lake County Tribune)
1931: The first tower on this site was constructed by the Fremont National Forest, the 14x14 cabin sat atop a thirty-one foot timber tower. The exterior was finished with 6” drop siding. The interior was all 4” tongue and groove. The shutters were constructed of 1x6 shiplap. The cabin was painted white. The stairs were comprised of 50 steps. A single car garage of wood frame construction was built. The wood shingle roof had a 45-degree pitch.
October 6, 1931: " We take a turn to the left and head for Sycan Butte. Here starts another climb on a road which offers no opportunities to turn back until the top is reached. The journey takes all the car has to offer and wonders where the rangers and fire dispatchers get the energy to climb these hills on foot in order to select the location for the tower. The tower here is wooden and has three flights of steps which offer another test of steadiness of the knees and head because there is no railing to help in getting to the top. The view again is the reward and on reaching the bottom there is a feeling that this climb furnished a splendid opportunity for an endurance test." (Lake County Tribune)
1932: Lightning protection was installed on the tower.
September 22, 1938: " Mrs. Frank Graves and children spent Sunday with Frank Graves at the Sycan Butte lookout station." (Lake County Tribune)
1942: A memo from the District Ranger to the Forest Supervisor shows that the tower stands at 35 feet. The guy cables on the west side of the tower are 7/16 inch and the east side are 3/8 cable, both sides with a maximum of one inch sag.
1944: The Lookout, Helen Johnson, was working as a Fremont National Forest employee.
1951: At the end of the year the KFPA list of lookouts and their locations indicates this lookout sat on USFS lands but otherwise was staffed and maintained by the Klamath Forest Protective Association.
1952: The 16x18 garage was repainted white.
1960: Remarks on a 1960 building record form “Wooden tower pretty shaky – wooden steps in bad condition. Settling of tower causing ceiling to buckle and pull apart. Needs a lot of work or a whole new tower and house.”
1963: Thirty-five panes of window glass replaced.
April 3, 1964: “KFPA Plans To Build New Tower” "A new 30-foot high steel tower will be erected on Sycan Butte with the first coming of warm weather. George Wardell, supervisor of the Klamath Forest Protective Association, reported Friday. The new structure, purchased at a cost of $2700 by the Fremont National Forest, will replace a wooden tower and lookout that was first constructed in 1932 and is now in disrepair, Wardell said. KFPA crews took the first step preparatory to assembling the tower last week when they plowed snow off the road leading to the butte. Erection of the prefabricated lookout tower will be completed in only about eight days after commencement of the project. The short-time construction schedule is possible because of considerable preliminary work, such as drilling holes in the material that was completed at KFPA headquarters this past winter. Wardell said that maintenance on the all-steel structure is practically negligible, compared to the present tower which, if continued in use, would cost some $300 annually to maintain. The existent tower sways so wildly in a 35-mile per hour wind that it often causes the fire guard quartered there to become sea sick. Wardell appraised." (Herald and News)
1964: The 1932 tower was replaced with a thirty foot steel tower. The new cabin had a aluminum roof with a pitch of 18-percent, the exterior was aluminum siding, the interior was of ¼ inch plywood. The floors were 4 inch tongue and groove fir lumber. Shutters were constructed from ½ inch plywood, the cat walk was three-foot wide and built from 2x6’s. All exterior wood was painted gray. The new tower was built next to the old tower, so the old tower could be used as a gin-pole. The new tower was built by the Klamath-Lake District of the Oregon Department of Forestry, with the materials purchased by the Fremont National Forest.
1964: The garage was repainted on the outside and the roof was stained. Also the Outhouse received a new roof and was repainted. The steel tower had a stairway of steel construction with two landings and three flights of steps. The tower was painted Rust-o-Leum red.
1969: Five fires were reported from this station in 1969. The outside of the tower was painted.
1969: The Silver Lake Ranger District lookout inventory shows this lookout manned and maintained by the Klamath Forest Protective Association.
1970: Five fires were reported from this station. The inside of the lookout house was painted including floor and cabinets.
1972: " An explosion and resulting fire caused major damage to the interior of Sycan Butte Lookout. Most of the windows were cracked from the heat or blown out, some woodwork had to be replaced, and all the interior repainted. About $700. 00 in material and labor was required to restore the lookout for occupancy." (KFPA Annual Report)
1972: Observations noted on the 1972 lookout condition survey report: "There is some rusting on the metal tower. A check of the permanent file shows construction of black iron mild steel with two coats of Rustoleum applied before the tower was erected. There are some areas where rusting is more severe and should be checked more thoroughly to determine if additional protective coating is required. The lightning protection needs complete checking and portions reworked. Two of the grounding wires at the base of the tower were completely disconnected, the protection to the roof may be inadequate. There is no FT-7 air terminal on the peak. There are no metal thimbles at the connection of the guys at the top of the tower. A metal thimble is out from under the wire rope on the northwest guy. The guy wires need protection so they do not rub at the joints or form too tight a bend. The edge trim boards are pulling away on the edge of the roof of the cabin."
1981: " A new roof was constructed. The old roof had been blown off by extremely high winds during the first weekend of October." (Klamath-Lake District Annual Report)
1984: The last year the lookout was staffed.
1988: The lookout was dismantled and the tower was re-erected on Hogback Mountain by an ODF crew from the Klamath-Lake District.
National Geodetic Survey
DESIGNATION - SYCAN BUTTE LOT PID - NY0858 STATE/COUNTY- OR/LAKE COUNTRY - US USGS QUAD - SYCAN MARSH EAST (1988)
DESCRIBED BY COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY 1948 (MTP) THE STATION IS THE CENTER OF THE LOOKOUT TOWER ON THE SUMMIT OF SYCAN BUTTE, A PROMINENT, HEAVILY WOODED HILL ON THE NORTHEAST SIDE OF SYCAN MARSH. THE TOWER IS ABOUT 27 MILES WEST NORTHWEST OF PAISLEY AND 18 MILES SOUTH OF SILVER LAKE.
THE TOWER IS A WOODEN STRUCTURE, ABOUT 35 FEET IN HEIGHT, SUPPORTING A GABLED LOOKOUT CABIN.