West Fork Tilton Fire Lookout
Lookout elevation: 2,040 feet
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
Distance: 2.7 miles
Access: Paved to gate
In the 1920s, the areas first railroad logging was undertaken in the West Fork Tilton River drainage. This might explain the unusual location. The first structure was built in 1934, but it's likely something was here before then. The specific location of the West Fork Tilton lookout could have easily disappeared without a trace. Thankfully, the lookout site views were photographed in 1934. After several hours of comparison work on Google Earth, I found the location located at a 4-way road intersection. Knowing logging practices, it was unlikely I would find anything. Over the years, there had been 2 rotations of timber with numerous lifts of rock placed on the road. Even worse, the location may have been used for a landing to pull timber up the hillside, or just to stack logs awaiting trucks. It took a keen eye but in 2015 I found a good spot to dig revealing a foundation. The West Fork Tilton lookout was a 20 foot wooden L-4 tower. The 1934 pictures show it had a nearby shed and an outhouse. The site was destroyed sometime in the 1950s.
Take Highway 7 south of Elbe or north of Morton. The access road is located just a few miles north of Morton. There is a large area to park near the gate but a more discrete parking spot is a huge pullout just north of the gate.
The entire route is on West Fork Timber property. They have no-trespassing signs up just inside the gate. Contact the company for permission to enter. Once inside, go 1/2 mile to a road that turns right. Follow this road 2.2 miles using the map provided to reach the lookout site. As pictures show, not much remains. Bring a shovel for additional finds. Roads are great for biking.
Washington Former Lookout Sites
West Fork Tilton North 1934
West Fork Tilton Southeast 1934
West Fork Tilton Southwest 1934
The lookout site off to the side of the intersection
First bolt found in foundation
Second bolt found in foundation
I first dug up the area on the left when I realized there was something to the right
Found an old battery part
These timbers were on site but they didn't look old enough
A rectangular footing or foundation with two bolts sticking up
West Fork Timber roads at the lookout site