Briefly Noted: ‘Fire Lookouts of Glacier National Park’

Fire Lookouts of Glacier National Park (Images of America), by David R. Butler, Arcadia Publishing (June 9, 2014), 128pp, photographs.

I’m happy to see the release of David R. Butler’s new book about Glacier National Park’s fire lookouts. Several years ago, in Heavens Peak Fire Lookout Assessment Open For Comments, I mentioned the developing plans to refurbish the historic fire lookout on Heaven’s Peak. David told me that most of that work was completed in 2012 and that his book includes before and after pictures. This is good news.

firelookoutsFrom the Publisher: The first fire lookouts in the Glacier National Park region were simply high points atop mountain peaks with unimpeded views of the surrounding terrain. Widespread fires in the 1910s and 1920s led to the construction of more permanent lookouts, first as wooden pole structures and subsequently as a variety of one- and two-story cabin designs. Cooperating lookouts in Glacier Park, the Flathead National Forest, and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation provided coverage of forests throughout Glacier National Park. Beginning in the 1950s, many of the lookouts were decommissioned and eventually destroyed. This volume tells the story of the rise and fall of the extensive fire lookout network that protected Glacier National Park during times of high fire danger, including lookouts still operating today.

From the Book: “Fire lookouts are described by many writers as magical places, and are well-known as inspirational sites for writers and poets such as Jack Kerouac, Normal Maclean, and Gary Snyder, as well as environmental writers and naturalists such as Edward Abbey and Doug Peacock. They also serve as nostalgic, historical reminders of a simpler time before the Internet, wireless communication, and the widespread use of advanced technology for spotting and monitoring fire boundaries.”

A small percentage of hikers and climbers see the nine remaining lookouts (a few of which are still in use) in Glacier, sticking to the more well-known trails, saddle trips and launch trips. For those who have never seen the lookouts, the photographs in this book open new worlds. For those who know, or who would like to more, Butler brings us another chapter in Glacier’s colorful history.

Update: Arcadia is offering the book at 20% off through Father’s Day 2014. Here’s the link.

You may also like:  Researcher documents history of Glacier’s fire lookouts in the Great Falls Tribune.


BearsWhereTheyFoughtCoverMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of three contemporary fantasy novels (“The Seeker,” “The Sun Singer,” “Sarabande” set in Glacier National Park as well as his non-fiction “Bears; Where They Fought,” a historical look at Glacier’s Swiftcurrent Valley.


2 thoughts on “Briefly Noted: ‘Fire Lookouts of Glacier National Park’

  1. clinton ferrara

    My father worked a summer job fire lookout above Ft Collins, CO. It is where I learned to walk. I think the tower is used as a vacation rental now.

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