Four historic fire lookout towers in Grand Canyon National Park, two on the North Rim and two on the South Rim, have been listed on the National Historic Lookout Register.
A short ceremony in recognition of Grand Canyon’s lookout towers listing on the National Historic Lookout Register was held in conjunction with the Grand Opening of the North Rim Wildland Fire and Emergency Services Facility on July 4, 2009.
Early park managers were extremely concerned about locating and extinguishing fires from the1920s through the 1960s.
All four of these towers are inactive, which reflects the shift in fire control policy, from one of immediate suppression of all fires to using an array of fire management actions including prescribed burns, wildland use fires, suppression, and incorporating fire as a natural ecosystem process to restore natural forest conditions.
The U.S. Forest Service first constructed wooden lookout platforms at Hopi Point and Grandview Point on the South Rim and on Bright Angel Point on the North Rim prior to the establishment of Grand Canyon National Park in 1919.
The National Park Service improved this early lookout system by replacing the wooden platforms with steel frame towers at Bright Angel Point and Hopi Point, and by building the Signal Hill and Kanabownits towers. The Civilian Conservation Corps built tree towers on the North and South Rims in the mid-1930s.
The National Park Service improved emergency communications by installing new phones and establishing a central dispatch at Grand Canyon Village during the 1920s.These lookouts were a part of a very efficient fire suppression program: fires rarely burned more than one hundred acres in the park each year until modern fire management guidelines were initiated.
The Signal Hill tower is near Pasture Wash on the South Rim and was constructed in 1929. The Tower is a 7 x 7 Aermotor LS-40. It is about 35 feet high and is located at an elevation of 6,780 feet.
Three towers have occupied the Hopi Point location.
The North Rim Lookout was originally constructed in 1928, and moved to its current location at the north entrance in 1933 by the CCC.
The 7x7 steel Aermotor LX-24 was modified and it is now located at an elevation of 9,165 feet. The tower is 75 feet tall. This lookout tower is also famous for one its operators: author Edward Abbey worked there for four years in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The Kanabownitz tower, also on the North Rim, was constructed in 1940 by the CCC in one of the last major projects they completed in the park.
Amy Horn, Grand Canyon National Park’s Archeology Program Manager and Dave Lorenz, Director of the Arizona Chapter of Forest Fire Lookout Association, collaborated on the nomination of the four Grand Canyon lookouts to the National Historic Lookout Register. Horn said, “This listing recognizes the important role Grand Canyon's lookout towers and the firefighters who manned them played in early firefighting across the West.”
Forest Fire Lookout Association, see http://www.firelookout.org/
Last updated: March 30, 2019