July 2010 - Ron Kemnow photo
September 22, 1929: "the platform on a large tree at American Camp, now in use as the lookout station, will be replaced during the winter months by a modern 50 foot steel tower with a glass enclosure, according to word given out by Supervisor J.R. Hall of the local forest service this week. The material will be furnished by the state forest service and will be installed by the local forest service. Each will pay half the salary of the person to be employed as lookout during the dry season." (Oakland Tribune)
February 11, 1930: "The station to be completed for use during this year's fire season, it was announced today by State Forester M.B. Pratt." (San Mateo Times)
February 16, 1930: "The first lookout tower to be erected in Tuolumne County by the state forestry department is being constructed this week at American Camp Peak by a crew of five state forest rangers, under the supervision of Inspector A.E. Frost of Sacramento. This tower, which will be a modern 60-foot lookout station, is on one of the highest peaks in the county, and will overlook the entire county and portions of Calaveras county." (Oakland Tribune)
March 28, 1932: "The body of J.H. Kling, 53, prospector and fire lookout, crushed by a cave-in in a mine tunnel near Rose Creek, fifteen miles north of here, was found yesterday by Robert Cuney, another prospector.
The slide apparently had occurred March 16, as a calender in Kling's cabin was last marked for March 15. Kling served three years as American Camp lookout for the Stanislaus National Forest Service and mined during the winter." (Modesto News-Herald)
2008: The Crane Flat Lookout was scheduled to be closed from July 28 through September 5 for repairs and renovation.
1914 - J.T. Jardine photo, Stanislaus National Forest Collection
1961 - Stanislaus National Forest Collection
June 2010 - Ron Kemnow photo
October 7, 1921: "Stanislaus - Pilot Peak Lookout -- John Hastie -- reports that he had 63 visitors between June 6 to August 31, 1921. Pilot looks like a mighty popular summer resort, and we hope Hastie spread the fire gospel at every opportunity !" (California District News Letter)
1935 - Ola Zimmerman photo, Stanislaus National Forest Collection
April 15, 1931: "A fire lookout tower, giving protection to Stanislaus and Tuolumne Counties is assured by an appropriation of $600 by the county board of supervisors on Tuesday.
A similar amount was donated by the Tuolumne board, and construction of the thirty-foot tower on Rushing Mountain, near Oakdale will start at once, according to Earl T. Barron, state fire warden.
It will be completed by May 1, and throughout the entire dry season a man will be on duty continuously, Barron said. He will have telephone connections with rural fire departments, and upon "spotting" smoke or flames will order apparatus and men to the scene.
The lookout will have a sweeping view of most of Stanislaus and a great part of Tuolumne County. His telephone will keep him in touch at all times with both rural and city fire departments.
The state will maintain the lookout, Barron said, after the tower is constructed by the counties. (Modesto News-Herald)
June 26, 1931: "A twenty acre grass fire was reported Thursday morning on the Warner Beale ranch, now leased by Veranus Ellinwood of Sonora, located in the Don Pedro country. The fire was reported by Edward H. Tinnen, lookout at the newly constructed fire tower on Rushing Hill, who spotted the smoke before other lookouts were able to see it." (Modesto News-Hearld)
October 20, 1931: "The value of the lookout station at Rushing Hill and the quick results obtained in cases of fire were demonstrated yesterday when an alarm was phoned in about a fire near Knights Ferry.
A farmer in that vicinity had been given a fire permit to burn grass. No sooner had the blaze started than Ed Tinney at the lookout station discovered it and sent in the alarm. Clay Dorrah, rural fire chief, knew of the permit and did not take out the truck." (Modesto News-Herald)
The lookout burned Aug. 31, 1987, in the Stanislaus Complex Fires that destroyed 147,095 acres in Tuolumne and Mariposa counties. A wood frame building atop a metal two-story tower, the lookout burned within a couple hours of when Hamm abandoned it about 1 p.m.
Now, rising like a Phoenix out of the ashes, the lookout has been rebuilt and is nearly ready for use again in the Groveland Ranger District of the Stanislaus National Forest." (Merced Sun-Star)
August 18, 1939: "At 1:01 p.m. on August 8, Lookout-Fireman Carpenter on Thompson Peak Lookout in the Stanislaus National Forest, was attracted by the reflection of a shining object close to the right of way of a logging railroad one-half mile away from the tower. Curious as to the reflection but not able to determine what it was, he looked closely with the aid of field glasses. A few minutes later he thought he saw a tiny wisp of smoke rising from the reflection. He immediately reported to Fire Dispatcher Zimmerman at Sonora who sent Carpenter to investigate.
Upon arrival at 1:16 p.m. Carpenter found a small blaze two feet in diameter in grass and bear clover. In the center of the blaze was a broken piece of window glass about 6x10 inches, suspended about 3 inches above the grass by bear clover surrounding it. The fire had unquestionably started from the focusing of the sun's rays through the glass, creating enough heat to ignite the grass.
The occurrence of the fire establishes proof to the theory that ordinary glass can start a fire where location, weather, and fuel conditions are favorable. However, this is the first fire in the Stanislaus National Forest definitely known to have been started this way. -Stanislaus-"