White Pass Country Historical Museum

High Rock Fire Lookout

In 2014, at the encouragement of Rick McClure; Cowlitz Valley Ranger District archaeologist Kevin Flores and the White Pass Country Historical Society applied for a grant from the Valerie Sivinski Washington Preserves Fund. Thanks to Kevin’s work in writing the grant, we were awarded the maximum amount available.

In June of 2014, Kevin Flores, Rick McClure, Don Squires of the Historical Society and 2 members of the Sand Mountain Lookout Association of Oregon – Don Allen and Bill Joy – visited the lookout and did a detailed assessment of the work needed.

Some work was started, but due to the extreme fire situation in the summer of 2015, much of the work planned was not completed as scheduled. The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, who administers the Valerie Sivinski Grants, has awarded a 1 year extension to the grant. The plans were then made to complete as much work as funds allow in 2016.

While some work was completed in 2016, it soon became clear that more extensive work needed to be done to preserve the building. To that end the White Pass Country Historical Society launched a “Save The Rock” campaign. An account was set up thru PayPal so to make it easier for supporters to donate the project. Meetings with the Forest Service and Sand Mountain Society were held and extensive plans to completely restore the lookout were made.

The Sand Mountain Society has been the lead on the actual reconstruction work. They have completed the management plan. In August of 2020 the remaining windows including the frames were removed from the building and the building stabilized. The windows were then placed in pack frames and removed from the site. They were then taken to be restored and will then be stored ready to be reinstalled when the time comes.

High Rock Lookout was constructed in 1930. It is located on the top of a rock bluff. One of many constructed as a part of the Forest Fire prevention program, is reached by a 1.6 mile long trail.

In the 1960’s, the Forest Service burnt down many of the lookouts. The exceptions in the area were Burley Mountain and High Rock. In later years High Rock was manned by Bud Panco, who was there for 17 summers. After that time, weather and vandals have taken a toll on the lookout.

High Rock

Thank you to Mineral Lions Club for your donation.

Donations have been coming in steadily. The Mineral Lions Club made a donation to the project in the name of Jim Hale, a member of the Mineral Lions Club and a former High Rock Lookout himself. Any donated funds not used in the actual restoration will be used for ongoing maintenance.

A Big THANK YOU to all who have donated.

Donations to this project can be mailed to the White Pass Country Historical Society at PO Box 958 Packwood, WA 98361. Please mark it for the High Rock Lookout

You can also donate by clicking on the PayPal Icon below.

PayPal for High Rock

Press Release

High Rock Lookout  2021 Summer Restoration

     Historic preservation activities associated with the restoration of High Rock Fire Lookout, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, begun in 2020, will continue this summer.  The historic lookout on the summit of High Rock is a popular hiking destination, famous for the extraordinary views of Mount Rainier and the upper Nisqually River watershed. Volunteers working in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service will be on site at High Rock between June 23 and July 7, 2021. Trailhead parking at Towhead Gap, on Forest Service Road 8440, will be limited during this period. To ensure public safety, High Rock Trail #266 will be closed to hikers on Thursday, June 24th while pack stock are using the trail.  Forest Road 8440 and Trail #266 will be closed to public use on Tuesday, July 6th during helicopter operations at High Rock. For more information on the High Rock Lookout restoration project, please contact Kevin Flores, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District kevin.flores@usda.gov or see the website for the White Pass Country Museum at https://whitepasscountrymuseum.org.

Replacing the Windows