Lagged not logged

  • FIRE LOOKOUT: The Overgaard Tree

    Dale Schicketanz photo
  Climbed Delodo Tree. Had a bad feeling, so dry and hot. Storm last night brought plenty of lightning, little rain. Spotted smoke to south, blowing northeast and picking up ... Caught hobbled mare and saddled up. Rode to Little Nelson Lake Tree, saw smoke again. Looks like a big fire ... May need extra folks on this fire.

* from the journal of a U.S. Forest Service fire spotter

in July 1935

Before the fire lookout tower, there was the "lagged" lookout tree - so named for the steel lags that provided steps to the top of the tree. The Civilian Conservation Corps created a network of these tall trees that spanned ridges and mountaintops across the national forests. Nimble fire spotters climbed to their tops on the spiked steps of tempered steel or wood ladders, then checked the horizon for smoke. Some lookout trees, such as the Hull Tank Lookout Tree on the Kaibab National Forest, still have their wooden platforms. On the Mogollon Rim of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona, a 60-foot-tall ponderosa pine known as the Overgaard Tree still stands, its rungs grown high. And on the Kaibab National Forest, several lookout trees have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

While lookout trees were left standing across the United States, they were most common in the Southwest. For more information, contact the Kaibab National Forest, 520/635-8272, Chevelon-Heber Ranger District of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, 520/535-4481 or the National Historic Lookout Register, 800/476-8733.

* Christine Haese

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