Elevation: 1,511 feet
Elevation Gain: 800 feet
Distance: 2 miles
Access: Good Gravel Roads
Take Highway 101 north from Olympia to the Skokomish River FR 23 mainline. Follow paved FR 23 past the houses, then onto a gravel section. Just before FR 23 turns back into pavement, FR 2340 splits to the right. Follow FR 2340 a few miles to a 4 way intersection at Lake West. Gates likely block the left and right direction. Park out of the way.
Logging camps were known to start forest fires. One of the largest in Mason County was Camp 3, run by the Simpson Logging Company. Towering above, looking directly down on the camp was Grisdale Lookout. The access then and now for this fire lookout begins at old Camp 3. Of course, not much remains at Camp 3, but I'm sure you could find evidence if you went looking in the woods. The Grisdale Hill lookout site is a bit of a mystery. No start date is known. We know from a few newspaper articles that it was there on August 3, 1939. "Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Smith spent Sunday visiting Johnnie Boyce who is now stationed at the Forest Service Lookout at Camp 3. It proved an interesting visit, as the duties of a lookout scout are quite complicated." (Shelton-Mason County Journal) Another article said on October 3, 1946: "Largest of the fires covered an acre of Simpson Logging Company property near the old lookout at Camp 3 Sunday and was apparently started by pigeon hunters." (Shelton-Mason County Journal)
It's important to know not to confuse this Grisdale Lookout and Camp 3 with Camp Grisdale, just south of the Wynoochee Reservoir. Camp Grisdale was famous claiming at one point to be the largest logging camp in the lower U.S.
Follow the road a short distance crossing Vincent Creek. Note that the first half mile was an old logging grade with wide curves and through cuts in the earth. At the Y intersection a few minutes past the creek, veer left and follow to a cut open area. Go right (uphill) at this open area. Follow road to ridgeline, than a short distance more on the ridge to the summit. On top, the earth has been seriously manipulated. The summit is well over 10 feet higher than its original height. Find some old lookout footings at the Northwest end, down about 15 feet near the base of the original summit.
Grisdale Brothers, George and Bill
Nephews of Sol Simpson, who founded Simpson Logging Company in 1890. George Grisdale moved here from Canada at the age of 17. His first work for his Uncle Sol Simpson's outfit was as donkey engineer on one of the first upright spool machines in the state. He became Camp Five foreman and until his death, was a general superintendent of all logging operations. He was with Simpson nearly forty years.
J.W. (Bill) Grisdale, came from the Montreal area of Canada. "I was just going to stay four years and earn enough money to go home and buy a ranch." Grisdale said. Then he met a school teacher, Ester Callow, got married in 1902 and racked up a record of forty-nine years and nine months with Simpson before retiring in 1947. "I never drew a paycheck from anyone but Simpson," Grisdale said. His first job was on a skid road which occupied him for a week or so until a chance came to fire a lokie. He put in fourteen hours for $1.92 a day. "I had to get up at four o'clock t have the lokie fired up and ready to work at six o'clock." Grisdale explained. In 1899, Grisdale became foreman at Camp One, and in 1929, when Simpson opened Camp Three, he was put in charge and during the next 20 years his crew logged more than a billion feet of Douglas fir.
Washington Lookout Sites
Did the logging company provided a school for the children?
Yes, through the eighth grade. After that they bussed us down the mountain into Shelton. Our elementary school was a two room schoolhouse. Friends have assumed I had a deprived childhood but we were smart kids with good teachers. We took music lessons and we also learned to be independent and bold, and very sociable. My mother was a teacher before marrying and my father was the president of the union. Many of the lumberjacks read books for entertainment, played bridge and pinochle.
What did the kids in the camp do for fun?
We'd hike down into the canyon, play all day, hiking back up before sunset. We'd dam a creek and swim. We built cedar bough tepees, we paddled a dug-out canoe my brother made on the lake behind our house, and we put on shows and played games like kick the can and hide and seek. In the winter we roller skated on the frozen logging road and ice skated on the frozen lake. When we grew to be teens we worked for the Camp. My first job was in the mess hall making sandwiches and packing lunches. Those loggers ate so much food! (The lake is Lake West and that canyon is the one High Steel Bridge crosses!)
Bill Grisdale, in the white shirt standing beside the tender, Camp One.
Below from an article that interviewed Nita Clothier
Grisdale L.O. and Camp 3 on the 1947 Metsker Map
Second footing found had the base stones exposed
First footing found was buried in ground on it's side
Showing how high the mound of man-made dirt above
From the lookout point with a second knob nearby
Grisdale Hill Lookout Location
Arriving on top
The road along the ridge
Road to Grisdale L.O.
Gate off FR 2340
Camp 3 in 1935