sand mountain society

Sisi Butte Lookout Salvage

The SMS had a fleeting opportunity to salvage materials from Sisi Butte Lookout in 1999. In the one long weekend (Saturday-Monday) they were given, Don Allen Jr., Bill Joy, and Carl Munz removed as many elements as they could, lowering bundles down from the 45-foot tower with a block and tackle.  “For me the Sisi removal was a really sad event,” Allen recalls.  “ I imagine me and Bill’s experience was not unlike the experiences of those who were sent to burn lookouts as part of their job in the 1960s and 70s.  I had worked on Sisi as a relief lookout in the mid-1980s, and later worked on Clear Lake Butte Lookout, the neighboring lookout to the north.   Bill had worked many times on the radio repeater at Sisi as part of his job.  We had a number of friends who staffed Sisi.  It was heartbreaking to dismantle it, but it was that or lose all that material forever.”

Allen continued “I remember that the Monday morning, which was our last day, Bill and I woke up to pre-dawn light on the horizon with cold east winds at about 40 miles per hour.  This prohibited us from safely removing the roof sheathing and framing, which was too bad.  Whatever we left behind was – by contract – to be blown up the next day.  We were very sorry we were not able to salvage more.  With another week, we could have gotten many thousands of dollars-worth of historic fabric for re-use at other sites.”

In the end, the SMS salvaged material that was later used in the restoration of nearby Gold Butte Lookout and its out-buildings.  Other material from Sisi was used to repair a section of floor in the Dispatcher’s Cabin at Fish Lake Guard Station in 2007.

The old L-4 at Sisi Lookout was replaced with a modern octagonal structure on a new tower.  Sadly, by 2010, the new lookout tower was no longer staffed.

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