Watchman Fire Lookout

Watchman Fire Lookout
photo courtesy of Robert Mutch

Watchman Observation Station, also referred to as Watchman Fire Lookout, was designed by Francis Lange and constructed between 1931-1933. Watchman Observation Station was conceived, designed, and developed as a NPS Rustic-styled fire lookout and museum.

The Rustic-styled observation station incorporated Crater Lake’s available indigenous materials including rock and wood to harmoniously blend in with the building’s context. Specific aspects of the style included use of native materials, simplicity in design, avoidance of overly perfect construction lines, use of exterior colors such as brown and gray to blend with the setting, and a general look as if the structure was built by pioneer craftsmen.

As a fire lookout, Watchman Observation Station was part of a network of fire lookouts located inside Crater Lake’s boundaries and outside—on U.S. Forest Service lands and elsewhere. The network “provided almost one hundred percent visibility of the forests in the Crater Lake region”. During the period of significance, the prompt detection of forest fires was essential to the protection of Crater Lake. As a result, rangers stationed at the fire lookouts kept in close contact by telephone during the period of significance and by short wave radio beginning in 1954.

As an interpretive site for park visitors, the building housed a museum on the first story and a viewing platform on the second. The museum’s focus was on forestry education while the platform served as a wayside for visitors to come into contact with an assigned Ranger-Naturalist who would educate park visitors about Crater Lake. [National Park Service Cultural Landscapes Inventory: The Watchman Observation Station and Watchman Trail, Crater Lake NP, 2001]

National Park Service Cultural Landscapes Inventory: The Watchman, Crater Lake National Park, 2001 a complete inventory of the Watchman



New Watchman fire lookout, Courtesy Crater Lake National Park.

Historic photograph showing Watchman Fire Lookout. This building was replaced by Watchman Observation Station (Historic Resource Study, 1984).



Diagram shows location of Watchman Peak within Crater Lake National Park (CCSO 2002).



Site plan showing the proposed boundary for the Watchman Cultural Landscape (CCSO 2002).