Aircraft Warning Service (AWS) Washington Locations

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Former Lookouts
Winterizing
The highest and most difficult to reach stations were summer only stations, occupied as weather permitted between April 1 and December 1. The stations that would be year round were given improvements to winterize them. For example, 1/2 inch thick insulating material would be nailed to the roof sheathing. On the side walls below the windows, building paper was added, then sheathed 1/4 thick reject fir plywood was placed. For the windows, a glazed sash for the upper half of the windows was secured. Malthoid paper was recommended for the floor covering protecting the floor from tracked-in snow and water, and making the floor warmer. Stoves were added if they didn't have one, even a 7x7 tower type cab would get a stove with an improvised stack. Shutters were completely removed as heavy snow would destroy them. Heat in the lookout would build icicles which had to be removed with a stick daily. Stairs and handrails leading to the tower cabs were salted and shoveled daily. Toboggans for hauling supplies, wood, snowshoes or skis were provided for each observer. Even a small supply of gear was cashed outside each lookout as an added safety precaution in case the house should burn down. Towers over 40 feet high were not recommended for use as they were noisy in moderate to strong winds and climbing up to the cab was hazardous. Ground houses were to be used instead.
AWS relates to fire lookouts. It became apparent I would need to understand the AWS program and locate all the stations, in order to ensure I would not miss something in my quest to visit all fire lookouts in the Cascades and Olympics. A huge benifit doing this were the many historical nuggets of information found about dozens of fire lookouts. Over time, I will add all information learned to the specific lookout pages of sites used for AWS during WWII.
AWS History
In the early summer of 1942, the Aircraft Warning Service (AWS) program was initiated under the direction of the U.S. Army when the county was in eminent danger of attack from Japanese forces. The AWS started with mostly city and town posts manned by volunteers under the Civil Defense Agency. The program would get enlarged by August of 1942 to include forest fire lookouts being activated as temporary Aircraft Warning Observation Posts. The U.S. Forest Service became the coordinating agency for the AWS in National Forests, National Parks, Indian Reservations, State Lands and Private Forests. But there wasn't always a fire lookout available in the locations needed for a observation post. The Forest Service was asked to develop observation posts in these regions and money was allocated for this. Usually a sleeping cabin was built, sometimes a converted garage was buit, other times it was a new lookout tower or even just a tent camp placed. Most all these rural positions were paid as finding persons to man them was very difficult.

Observers were required to report all planes seen or heard twenty-four hours a day. They would then report Army Flash messages (plane sightings) by telephone or radio. Information pertaining to the number and type of planes, the altitude and flight direction were all given. The army wanted a double line along the Pacific front close enough together so that each station would only be required to observe from 2.5 to 3 miles (so 6 miles). One reason for expanding to fire lookouts was the concern about smoke hazes in summer making visibility extremely poor for the lower observation posts. Using lookout stations, guard stations and in some cases ranger stations would "fill in the gaps". Originally, the fire lookout posts were only expected to report airplane flights during daylight hours, when Fire Control personnel is normally on duty. Originally, this was thought it would be a "strictly voluntary contribution and no additional employees were planned." Well, in a short time, it became a day and night duty and one or two additional paid observers were posted at most of the remote observation sites. Keeping an AWS post supplied with food and fuel was difficult, and keeping communications working (especially in winter) was even harder. If a station failed to report a plane, the Army called it a miss. If you got two misses, someone from the Army would come out and visit with you to find out why.

Most of the observation posts were managed by the Army and Forest Service but an additional defensive line was being managed by the U.S. Coast Guard along the coast. The Coast Guard was already busy defending and patrolling the Washington coast with beach patrols and lookout points but they also assisted with the Aircraft Warning Service. Some of their AWS posts were located on Tatoosh Island, Cape Alava, Quillayute River, Kalaloch, Whale River and Destruction Island. Most of these posts are not listed on this page since few records were found about these beach patrols and shelters.

All the reports of plane sightings went to a Filter Center where all flights were being followed in a map room. These 4 highly confidential filter center locations were in Bellingham, Seattle, Olympia and Port Angeles. All the lookouts needed to be connected to a commercial switchboard but many remote locations were radio only. Some posts got new phone lines built to them while a few had to relay communications over a radio, which wasn't preferred.
Selection of Observers
"I should like to take this opportunity to suggest that as replacements are made, that husband and wife, or two men well beyond their teens be considered for observers. This is not a criticism of the performance of any of the young lads at the observation posts, but I do believe older man or husband and wife will prove to be more stable and satisfied with their lot. The various wardens will make their jobs easier if they can put men or women in the stations who will be apt to remain for a while. This will also simplify the job of supervision and inspection."
Signing On
I, the undersigned, being employed in the Aircraft Warning Service of the Army, pledge my full cooperation in any duty assigned me. I will faithfully discharge such duty to the best of my ability, placing myself voluntarily under such orders, rules and regulations as the service demands during the period of my employment. I pledge myself to guard closely from all except duly authorized persons, divulging to no one, not even to my closest relatives, any information of a military nature which I may acquire as a result of such service. I further pledge my allegiance to the American Flag and the Government for which it stands and certify that I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of an organization inimical to the Government of the United States of America, so help me God.
Sleeping Quarters
The 14 x 32 house type building is the standard Forest Service 2-room portable scaler's dwelling. The 12 x 20 garage type building is a standard Forest Service garage of this dimension connected temporarily for living quarters.
Special Insignia
July 1942: Office of Civilian Defense establishes the "Forest Fire Fighters Service" to safeguard forest lands and other timber facilities, as well as cooperate with private and state forest agencies. "The insignia will be on an arm band only to be warn for those whose fire control duties will require them to travel patrolled roads and highways and should be worn only during periods of blackout, care being used to protect them at other times from coming into unauthorized hands." Cars equipped with dimout lights, marked with the insignia, and driven by a driver wearing the arm band should be permitted to travel the highways during periods of blackout.
washington
Olympics
AWS Only
Used For Fire
Anderson
Andrews Ranch*
Blyn
Bogachiel
Burnt
Canyon Creek
Baker
Bald
Bangor
Bellview Shelter
Clearwater
Constance Pass
Boston Harbor
Bunch Ranch
Deep Creek
Dosewallips*
Deer Park
Camp Comfort*
Dennie Ahl/Gibbons
Camp 3* (Log Camp)
Dodger
Carstairs Prairie
Willapa Hills
AWS Only
Used For Fire
Boisfort/Bawfaw
Adna
Burt
Hull
Incline
Minot
Alger
Grays bay
Hobi
Johns River/Markham
Lake Creek
Naselle
Nemah
Palex
Willapa/Churches
Capitol
Squally Jim
South Cascades
AWS Only
Used For Fire
Aldrich
Pigeon Springs
Bunker Hill
Elk Rock
Green Knob
Mitchell Peak
Toutle/Helens Fire Hall
Red Mountain
Silver Star
Vanson
Wolfe Point
Central Cascades
AWS Only
Used For Fire
Bare Mountain
Alder
Cedar Point/City
Colquhoun
Doty
Electron/Kings Creek
Alpha
Bremer/Cinnebar
Chambers Prairie
Duvall
Glacier View
Granite
Goodwater*
Grouse
Grass Mountain
The Horn/Rex
The Horn/Rex
Lake Tapps
Humphrey
Mckenna
Kiona
Meridian Hill
North Cascades West
AWS Only
Used For Fire
Bacon
Austin Pass
Barlow
Blackjack
Blue Mountain
Church Mountain
Backus R.S.
Baker Lake
Glacier R.S.
Galena
Copper
Darrington R.S.
Jim Creek
Koma Kulshan
Deming
Lightning Creek*
Desolation Peak
Maple Falls
Devils Mountain
Mineral Park Cabin
Easy Peak
Mosquito Lake/Chisvill
AWS Only
Used For Fire
13 Mile
Conconully
Aeneas
Big Hill
Bodie
Bonaparte
Curlew*
Harts Pass*
Lost River*
Marble*
Buck Mountain
Bunker Hill
Salmon Meadows
Stehekin R.S.
Chelan Butte
Swede Pass
Domke
Tonasket
Dugout
Twisp
First Butte
War Creek G.S.*
North Cascades East
Northeast
AWS Only
Used For Fire
silver star silver star
List Below:
This page has the stations managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The list is as best as I can tell accurate from the information gathered from the hundreds of documents available at the Seattle National Archives. Many other civilian observation posts existed as well, managed by the Civil Defense Agency. The U.S. Coast Guard under the Navy also had a defense system along the coast. Errors will be corrected when found.
Silver Star Lookout near Vancouver Washington
Vesta
Center
Corrigenda Butte
Higley Peak
Eagle R.S.*
Elkhorn*
Enchanted Valley
Hogum Bay
Hoh Bridge
Jorsted
Laual Claim*
Dow
Humptulips
Hurricane
Hyas
Kloochman
Green Mountain
Kloshe Nanich
Mason Lake
Mobray
Mt. Walker
Neah
North Point
Owl Ridge
Prices Peak
Pyramid
Pysht Lookout
Reed Hill/Drake/Camp 5
Lincoln G.S.*
Lost Lake
Low Divide
Matheny Creek
Megorden
Neilton
Oil City
O'Took Prairie
Quillayute
Satsop
Simpson
Spruce/Geodetic Hill
Striped Peak
Tahuya/Spider Lake
Webb
Zion
Sea Lion
South Ozette
Warkum Point
National
Nordrum
Ohop
Pack Forest
Pleasant Valley*
Pinnacle Peak
Porcupine
Rockies
Snoqualmie
South Prairie
Stampede
Miller River*
Mowich*
Newaukum
Paradise
Riffe Hill*
Rocky Run/Sno Pass*
Sawmill Ridge*
Snoquera*
Sunshine Point
Thrift
French Point
Gee Point
Green Mountain
Haybrook
Haystack
Josephine
Ranker
Roland
Reflector Bar
Robe
Roesiger
Sauk R.S.
Suiattle
Suiattle G.S.*
Sulphur
Verlot R.S.
Samish
Whatcom Mountain
Whitechuck Bench
Wickersham
* = winter only station serving for a high-elevation summer only observation post
Suntop
West Fork*
Franson
Hull
Jackass Butte
Jackknife Mountain
Lookout Mountain
Monument 83
McGregor
Quartz
Remmel
Slate Peak
Stahley
Tunk
War Creek
Windy Peak
Strawberry*
Sweetgrass Butte
Taylor Ridge
Year 1942
16 new lookouts constructed, 12 lookouts repaired. "The vast majority of the lookouts were erected for military purposed and the cost was borne by an emergency appropriation expended through the U.S. Forest Service and the State Department. Details as to location cannot be given here." (35th Annual Report of the Washington Forest Fire Association)
Insignia O'Took Prairie Sawmill Ridge Sawmill Ridge suckers
Sawmill Ridge AWS site - the winter location for Colquhoun Lookout
O'Took Prairie (I think) - Southwest of Lake Quinault
Getting to the Sawmill Ridge AWS site in winter
Baker AWS Baker AWS Baker AWS
Baker AWS observation site - located a few miles inland from Point Granville on the Pacific Coast
Eyes Aloft
mt. zion lookout
Mt. Zion - Feb. 1943 during AWS - Photo by Hugh H. Hanson the lookout
eyes aloft
Civilian Observation Post in Sequim
Seattle Filter Center (West)
Maps showing most but not all AWS locations
June 1943 Map
October 1943 Map
Seattle Filter Center (East)
Portland Filter Center
Olympia Filter Center
Bellingham Filter Center
Legend
Port Angeles Filter Center
Seattle Filter Center (West)
Seattle Filter Center (East)
Portland Filter Center
Olympia Filter Center
Bellingham Filter Center
Legend
Port Angeles Filter Center
Blueprints - (A)
Blueprints - (B)
Blueprints - (C)
Blueprints - (D)
Grisdale/Camp 3
* = winter only station serving for a high-elevation summer only observation post
* = winter only station serving for a high-elevation summer only observation post
Corrigenda G.S.
Likely Coast Guard Stations
Baada Point