St. Johns Lookout Site

Oregon Lookouts

Location.

St. Johns District of Portland, OR

Status.

Maintained; Occupied by City of Portland Park Rangers

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

Within city limits

Date visited.

October 24, 2021

Elevation.

143′

National Historic Lookout Register.

No

Trip Report.

This is a building in the city of Portland that was used for fire detection in Forest Park. It’s located right next to the historic St Johns bridge and overlooks the Willamette River. The building is now used for the city Park Rangers office. My Partner and I decided to walk around the neighborhoods of North Portland and St Johns instead of driving directly to the site. I love looking at the different houses and architecture in this area. It was a rainy fall day but we got a break in the weather for our 6.5 mile walk. You are unable to access the building unless you have an appointment. I’m unsure if they’d grant access to the cupola though.

History.

This historical building was built in 1907 as the city hall for St Johns City. It was converted to a fire station in 1915. There was a fire in August 1951 that devastated Forest Park and lead to the construction of three emergency fire lookouts in the area. The fire burned 2,400 acres which was about 25 percent of the park. The Portland Parks Bureau with the assistance of Engine 32 of the Portland Fire Bureau erected the one in St Johns in 1952. They mounted a firefinder to the exterior wall from the second floor window. I couldn’t find confirmation on when the cupola tower was added. In 1959, it was noted by a survey crew that the original cupola and flagpole had been removed from the building. The building was later renovated in 1964 and 1996, but it’s unclear on which renovations lead to rebuilding the existing cupola.

Clatskanie Mountain L.O.

Oregon Lookouts

Location.

Hopkins Demonstration Forest

Status.

Refabricated & maintained for educational purposes

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

45 mins

Date visited.

October 23, 2021

Elevation.

2,081′ (original)

National Historic Lookout Register.

No

Trip Report.

My partner, his dad, and I decided to take a trip to Hopkins Demonstration Forest in Beavercreek. They had recently finished reconstruction of the Clatskanie Mountain L.O. in February 2021. The lookout is located right in the parking lot and easy to access. It was a really rainy fall day, so we were unable to climb the tower. I believe they will open this to the public on nicer days for tours. We checked out the adjacent Everett Hall, historic Molalla Log House, and hiking trails on the property as well. Hopkins Demonstration Forest offers learning opportunities about different sustainable forest management techniques over 140-acres and is operated by Forest Forever Inc. Places like this are important for preservation and education. Please donate if you are able or visit their website to learn more about getting involved!

History.

The Clatskanie Mountain L.O. is a 65′ Aermotor tower with 7×7 cab. it was originally built in 1954 and managed by the ODF in the coastal range near Astoria. It was constructed as a replacement for the Benson Lookout. In 1984, it was dismantled and moved to the Magness Tree Farm. Fun Fact: It was dismantled by the same person, Don Rust, that had originally assembled it. The World Forestry Center operated it there as an educational exhibit and historic display. They experienced issues with vandalism and the continued maintenance over the years. In 2008, they decided to refurbish and relocate the tower. It stood on the Hopkins property for 9 years before reconstruction started in 2019. Finding the proper components, knowledge, and skills needed took time. They were able to find a company to fabricate all the needed components to restore the structure to it’s original specifications. The company, Fire Tower Restoration, specializes in finding and saving Fire Lookouts before they are sold for scrap. The remaining work of replacing treads, railings, and safety fencing was completed by Hopkins volunteers over the last year. It is now open and ready for the public thanks to all their hard work!

The Hopkins Demonstration Forest is also currently working on restoring the Molalla Log House which will be completed in 2022. This historic log house is believed to be the oldest building in Oregon, if not the entire Pacific Northwest. It is made of Douglas Fir that had been hand hewn and held in place by tight half-dovetail notching. The origins of the log house are un-known even after extensive research, but believed to be built by fur hunters and trappers from Canada in the late 1790s. The building securely sat in the foothills of the cascades near Molalla for 200 years before it was dismantled in 2007. It was warehoused with plans for rehabilitation and preservation until it found it’s forever home in 2017. The building is a 18’x25′ log cabin with 1-1/2 stories. We will have to make a trip out to see it once completed!

More Information.

Hopkins Demonstration Forest