Keller Butte Lookout
Keller Butte started as a camp in 1932 with some kind of tower. We know this from the following two news reports:
July 12, 1932: “Lookouts have been stationed at the various stations on the Colville Indian forest. A man will be sent soon to the new station on Keller Butte. Mr. Patrie reports the fire hazard much less than this time last year.” (The Wenatchee World)
June 24, 1933: “The first C.C.C. camp for this district was opened Thursday with 75 men. One crew will work on the Cache Creek road, another will build a new road from the Cache Creek summit to Park City and a third crew will build a road from the summit to the new lookout tower at Keller Butte.” (The Wenatchee Daily World)
In 1935, an 80 foot 3-legged wooden tower with a 7 x 7 foot square cab was built by the CCC, along with an L-4 cab on the ground for living quarters. In 1960, the following inspection report was given:
"The 80-foot three-legged wooden tower, at 4831 ft. elevation, was constructed by CCC in 1935 at a total cost of $1046. A lookout shelter is fastened to the top of the tripod tower with U-bolts. The foundation of the tower consists of concrete footings with long grouted anchor rods. The immediate site area consists of large granite rocks. This lookout is 31 miles from the Agency and 12 miles from the Cache Creek road. Access is by dirt road, moderately steep. The area is subjected to heavy winds and snow and ice in winter. Water is about a quarter miles distant. Radio reception is good. Porcupines are a nuisance and are reported to chew at tires of the fire watcher's car or any other salt-containing object that must be left on the ground. Fuel used is wood, which is available near the site. Quarters are located about a hundred feet from the base of the tower. This tower and the shelter on top are unsound and unsafe and a threat to the safety of Bureau personnel and anyone visiting the tower. The timbers of which the tower is constructed have become brittle, and high winds that tear at it are a real and constant menace. The stairs and handrail are in extremely bad condition. Anchoring of the tower-top shelter is no longer sound. Age and weathering of the materials make effective rehabilitation impossible. It is proposed to construct a 65-foot steel tower with quarters on top, so as to permit full-time fire surveillance without the attendant having to prepare meals and sleep on the ground level. The quarters should have vertically pivoted windows of tinted glass so as to permit unobstructed view. The area available for constructing such a tower is approximately 45 feet square with some rise in elevation from one side to the other, and consists of large rock and small amounts of earth."
Finally, a 67 foot steel live-in tower was built in 1964. It is staffed every summer.
There are two good access routes. The most reliable is BIA 21 from the Buffalo Lake area. Leave the pavement shortly after passing the lake turn-off. The road at the beginning is a bit sandy and could be trouble if wet, but overall, this route is best for the access. The other major access point is from the long north ridge. Leave the paved Cache Creek Road at the pass (Cache Creek Pass) and follow the ridge road all the way south to Keller Butte. This ridge road is in pretty good shape although subject to logging operations closures and road damage.
Elevation: 4,831 feet
Hiking Distance & Gain: Drive-up
Access: Good roads unless wet
July 17, 1943: “Many teachers are employed this summer as fire lookouts in the Colville national forest, according to Chief Ranger Mel Robertson of Nespelem. Miss Josephine Volger, a teacher in the Leadpoint school, is stationed on Keller butte.” (The Colville Examiner)
The 1935 ground house and tower
Road to Keller Butte from Buffalo Lake
Looking down on Buffalo Lake from the road to Keller Butte
Keller Butte Lookout
Keller Butte Lookout
Vies from the ground
It was after visiting hours so I did not go up the lookout
Access from the north
Access from the Buffalo Lake area