Photographer documenting every fire tower in Washington


Kyle Johnson is photographing, with a medium-format (AKA hi-res) camera, every one of the 92 lookout towers in Washington state.

In the late 1930s to mid 1940s, the United States scrambled to build as many Fire Lookout towers as possible to protect against a growing number of wildfires. Washington State alone had over 600 in use during this time. Lookout Rangers worked this special summer job, acting as a lifeline for the forest and helping to protect what so many people take for granted.

Sadly, in the last few decades many of these historic lookout towers have been abandoned, destroyed or vandalized.

In Washington, only a few are still manned by Forest Service Rangers. Still, during the summer months, many are still accessible and make for some of the most rewarding hiking destinations the Northwest has to offer.


See more photos here.

If any enterprising Minnesota photog wants to imitate Johnson, this website’s map would be a good place to start. It shows that just about four dozen fire towers remain, down from 174.

(H/T Than Tibbetts)