High Rock Forest Fire Lookout Project
“Save the Rock” project was launched in 2017 with partners: U.S. Forest Service, the Sand Mountain Society, the White Pass Country Historical Society, the Lewis County Juvenile program, the Forest Fire Lookout Association of WA, the WA Trust for Historic Preservation, Packwood Improvement Club and other entities. The goal is to restore the High Rock Lookout to a fully functioning fire detection lookout. This 1930 L-4 building is one of three lookouts remaining in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. It was last manned in 2004 by WPCHS founding Board Member, Bud Panco, who lived on this high peak for 17 summers. The 1.6 mile trail is a vigorous climb but is well worth the effort as one reaches the Lookout at 5,685 feet. One can view Mt. Rainier 13 air miles away, Cora Lake sitting 2,000 feet below the building, the Tatoosh Range, Mt. Wow, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and the Glacier View Wilderness peaks.
Kevin Flores, Archaeologist based at Cowlitz Valley Ranger Station and Matt Mawhirter, Heritage Program Manager based in Vancouver, WA., have organized workers and volunteers cleaning out trash, painting over graffiti, repairing the cat walk, replacing window sills, and dispersing signage and information at the trailhead and on site.
Due to your support and donations, the High Rock Lookout building will undergo many positive changes in the next three years. Work will depend on the COVID-19 Virus work safeguards and the seasonal accessibility of the trail.
In August of 2020 volunteers from the Sand Mountain Society, the U.S. Forest Service and the White Pass Country Historical Society removed all the windows and stabilized the building. The windows have been transported to a site in Oregon to be restored. They will then be stored until it is time to reinstall them in the lookout.
Workers plan to remove the rotted materials from the old building next summer. Salvaged materials will be moved to the Randle compound site of the Cowlitz Valley Ranger Station. Phases 2 & 3 will have workers conducting reconstruction work at the Randle compound and back at the Lookout site. Once a lightning protection system is installed, the building will appear as it did in 1940. It will be completely rot free and fully functional as a wild-land fire detection site and as a point of information for numerous visitors.
Workshops have been planned for Volunteers. Please check the Museum’s updated website for future events. You can help in one of the following ways: volunteering at the trail-head or at the Randle Compound, or by supporting the project with donations.
Once the building is habitable there will be opportunities to become a volunteer steward.
Contact Kevin Flores, USFS at (360) 497-1100 for additional information.
Donations to this worthy project can be made by mailing checks to the White Pass Country Historical Society, PO Box 958, Packwood, WA. 98361 or at www.PayPal.me./HighRockRestoration.