Montana had many different models of fire lookouts at one time. Here are a few!
Mud Lake Lookout
Mud Lake Lookout, ” we like to call it ours” is the only original standing lookout left in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana.
Fire lookouts became popular in the early 1900’s following two huge fire season, in 1910 and 1918.They were built on the top of Mountains, all through the west. They were hauled by mule train many miles into the wilderness. The Mud Lake Lookout was called an L-4 model.
It’s 14 x 14 frame was bundled in kits for hauling up the mountains on the mules. Even the packing crate was used in the construction of the cabin. They were usually built right on the very top of the mountain, sometime the spot was just barely big enough for the cabin, we have seen several where it is straight down on three sides. They were grounded with very heavy cable to be protected from lightning strikes. The chairs and beds in the cabins had insulators on the legs.
The fellows manning the lookouts during a thunderstorm had quite the stories to tell. We will be having a few of these a little later in this blog.They were usually manned July, August, and part of September, depending on the fire season.The late 1950’s and early 60’s brought airplanes and infra-red sensing devices. The Forest Service could not afford to keep them in good repair and begin to burn them down. Our Mud Lake Lookout was one that survived, thanks to many of our guests that volunteered their time, in painting, cleaning, roofing, etc. to keep it in good condition for all to see and enjoy this part of our history. If you ever get a chance to visit one of these you will be amazed. Book a trip with Salmon Forks Outfitters to see this amazing part of our history!
Next we will be talking about what the lookout was equipped with and how they communicated. Stay Tuned!