A New Bolan Mountain Fire Lookout Cabin in the Siskiyou Mountains of Southern Oregon

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — The Bolan Mountain Fire Lookout in southern Oregon, that was razed to the ground in the 2020 Slater wildfire, will be rebuilt in a collaboration agreement by the Siskiyou Mountain Club and the Wild Rivers Ranger District.


The Historic Cabin Will Again Be Available for Public Rentals

The organizations say that the rebuild of the historic lookout, perched on a 6,242-foot rocky elevation, will be completed this summer and will again become available to the public for recreational rentals.

The Siskiyou Mountain Club will team with the U.S. Forest Service to rebuild the cabin north of the California-Oregon border. The small 14X14-foot cabin offers panoramic views of the Siskiyou Mountains.


The Cabin Served as a Fire Lookout Since 1917

The 2020 Slater wildfire burned one million acres across Oregon, killing nine people and destroying thousands of homes. The remote Bolan Peak outpost perished in the flames, ending 83 years as a fire lookout post for the Forest Service.

The Bolan Peak cabin was available for overnight recreational rentals and was so popular that it boasted a 100% occupancy rate. The lookout was the only Wild Rivers Ranger District cabin available on Rogue River- Siskiyou National Forest available for overnight rental, and was one of only 13 rental cabins available throughout the state.

District Ranger, Scott Blower, wistfully recalls Bolan Peak cabin. “You could see ocean whitecaps to the west, and the sunrise over Mount McLoughlin to the east.” Because the cabin was in a remote area with no interference from outside lights, Blower says the stars at night were incredible. The District Ranger initiated the Bolan Peak Lookout cabin rebuild.


A Project of Hope and Resiliency

Blower described the cabin rebuild project as one of hope and resiliency after the devastating impact the Slater wildfires had on the lives of many Oregonians four years ago. Blower described the Bolan Lookout cabin as ‘a place dear to the district.’

In recent years, Forest Service budgets have declined together with people on its payroll. Blower says for that reason he had to find a willing partner to fund the project. He succeeded in his campaign when finding a willing collaborator in Gabe Howe who is the Siskiyou Mountain Club’s executive director.

The club has been restoring southwest Oregon mountain trails since 2010.The nonprofit Siskiyou Mountain Club will assist in the restoration of trails near the lookout area and will oversee the rebuild project.


Volunteers Needed for the Bolan Cabin Rebuild

The Siskiyou Mountain Club is appealing for volunteers to help with the project. It needs work parties to haul building materials to the lookout site, and people willing to paint sidings at the Forest Service site in Cave Junction, destined for the Bolan cabin site.

The new Bolan Mountain Fire Lookout cabin will be constructed to modern code and engineering specs. Its new design will include a cedar siding and wood-clad interior to lend the structure historic characteristics. It will incorporate fire-resistant materials, including steel supports and a metal roof. Blower assures that everything possible will be done to maintain the cabin’s original look and atmosphere, but with materials that are resistant to fire.

The National Historic Lookout Register lists 167 lookout posts in Oregon, but each year the Forest Fire Lookout Association reports on dwindling numbers of lookouts lost to vandalism, wildfire, and disrepair due to lack of maintenance. As these historic sites fall into disuse, the numbers of people wanting to rent the cabins has soared.

Blower says that replacing lookouts preserves the District Rangers’ history as managers of the land. He expresses the hope that the collaboration by the Wild Rivers Ranger District and the Siskiyou Mountain Club will serve as a model for other Northwest national forests.

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