Guardians of the Forest: Shawnee Lookout Tower

The Shawnee Lookout Tower is a historic but endangered fire detection tower in Hocking County, Ohio.

The Shawnee Lookout Tower, constructed in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps in Hocking County, Ohio, stands 100 feet tall and features a 7-foot square cab at its top. It served as a fire detection station until the 1970s. The tower underwent restoration in 1994 but was closed to the public after a severe windstorm in 2004. In May 2023, the staircase was removed due to structural deterioration of the foundation blocks.

Fire lookout towers provided housing and protection for individuals tasked with searching for wildfires. Located on mountain summits or other high vantage points, these spotters observed for smoke, determined its location, and called for fire suppression personnel.

The Shawnee Lookout Tower is the last remaining lookout tower in the Wayne National Forest and the third tower in the country to be listed on the National Historic Lookout Register.


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The Wayne Natural Forest is a treasure of Ohio that 75% of the state’s citizens know nothing about. I studied forestry in Athens Ohio

During fire seasons, I was a smoke chaser at Hocking State Forest during my brief stint working for the state (1973-75). Tower lookouts would triangulate smoke and dispatch my truck to investigate and if necessary determine the response. I also worked with the maintenance guy to tighten bolts on the tower framework. We would rappel down the corner supports with wrenches in hand.

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