Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
Abandoned; Currently standing
Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.
June 25, 2022
National Historic Lookout Register.
Day 1/10: Lookout Road Trip 2022
After dusting our way back down the BLM road from Sexton Mountain, we popped back on I-5 to head farther south. From Medford, we headed east via HWY-62 to connect with HWY-140. We winded along HWY-140 until we entered the forest and reached NF-37 off to the right. You will head towards the Big Elk Guard Station, which is a rental unit through the Forest Service. We turned right on to NF-3730 just across from the Guard Station. The spur that leads to Robinson Butte is NF-050 and is only a short distance down NF-3730. Some of the roads weren’t marked but there is a notable corral next to the NF-050 junction. We headed up the spur and were met by a fairly large water bar that made us turn around. We concluded it made more sense to park and walk the road instead. By this time, the heat and lack of sleep had caught up with me. I was feeling pretty green and didn’t know if I could make it. I told my partner to continue on without me while I waited at the car. I few minutes later he came running back down the road and told me the water bar looked worse than what it was. He was determined to get me as close to Robinson Butte as possible before I gave up completely.
We started the car back up NF-050 and proceeded to bump over 11 different water bars before we reached the gate. It was otherwise a very good road. The bumps only nauseated me more and, to put it lightly, I lost my lunch near where we parked by the gate. I felt much better afterwards. Normally, I wouldn’t push myself but we were less than a mile from the lookout. I knew we wouldn’t be in the area again anytime soon and started to slowly crawl up the road. The gate was open but there were some larger rocks that looked like they could take out our oil pan. There was a fairly new communication building that we speculated must have been added earlier this year. The base of the lookout offers no views, but I was just happy to be able to make it. My partner decided to climb the tower despite the missing steps and ominous note. As always climb at your own risk. I wasn’t able to reach the summit until a little after 6PM. Even if I had been feeling one hundred percent, we were running out of time to make it to Table Mountain. We decided to push it off until tomorrow since we would still be in the area.
Normally, we prefer to disperse camp for free but the area is surrounded by a patchwork of private land and parts of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. With our packed schedule, we wouldn’t have had time to search for camp either. We made a last minute decision before we left to camp at the Hyatt Reservoir Campground for 2-nights. We were lucky that they still had availability online given the impending holiday weekend. I believe this was due to the lack of water in the Reservoir, it was lower than normal and the boat ramps were even closed. I was thankful for this decision because that meant we had showers and potable water for the next two nights. Something we would be severely lacking the next three nights. I felt like a whole new person after showering, eating something, and getting a good night of sleep. But, the next day was expected to be just as full as today. No rest for the wicked.
Pictures of Robinson Butte cab courtesy of my partner
Robinson Butte was first noted as a fire detection camp in 1917. According to Ron Kemnow‘s collection of articles, it is possible it was even used as early as 1913 with plans to potentially add a crow’s nest in 1916. The first structures were built in 1933 by the Moon Prairie CCC. The lookout was a 20′ pole tower with L-4 cab and neighboring garage. It was replaced in 1974 when the 53’ treated tower with R-6 cab was moved from Blue Rock L.O. by truck. As of 2016, it failed inspection and was listed as condemned.
4 thoughts on “Robinson Butte L.O.”
We snowshoed up to Robinson one winter and were able to climb up to just below the cab (this was before there were warning signs, etc. at the base). So thanks for giving us a glimpse of what it looked like inside.
You’re welcome! This was probably a nice place to see in a winter coat. It’s too bad it’s fallen into such a state of disrepair and will mostly be removed.
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