A Visit To The Lemmon Rock Lookout In The Catalina Mountains   4 comments

Lemmon Rock Outlook overlooking The University of Arizona Steward Observatory and a “control-burn” on Mt. Lemmon.

Lemmon Rock Lookout on Mt. Lemmon. The lookout cabin is about 15′ by 15′.

Hiking friend Jim with Gus.

View toward the Tucson valley with a Osborne Fire Finder mounted in the center of the cabin.

View east in the Catalinas toward the Rincon Mountains.

David Medford has been at the lookout since 2010. Here David takes a picture of a group visiting the lookout.

David, supervised by Gus, takes a group picture with the Tucson valley in the background.

View out of the southwest corner of the lookout cabin.

View from behind Osborne fire finder.

Images by kenne

The above plack reads: Lemmon Rock Lookout Tower was erected in 1928. It is the oldest lookout still in use on the Forest. This general locale has been used as a fire lookout since the Coronado Forest Reserve was established in 1902. The current lookout structure was constructed according to 1920’s standard plans. It contains a work area, kitchen, sleeping area, and fire finder in the same room. This lookout played a role in the first aerial fire patrols which flew over the Santa Catalinas beginning in 1921.

The earliest Forest Service fire towers were trees cleared of branches with a simple platform on the top. They were constructed in locales which provided an open view of the surrounding forest. The first wooden tower was built about 1915. Numerous wooden towers were erected during the 1920’s, along with the establishment of telephone lines for reporting fire conditions.

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) enrollees stationed a camps on the Coronado National Forest during the 1930’s provided personnel for fire prevention work and additional fire tower construction. Architectural plans were developed throughout the Southwest Region for standard lookout towers made of wood and steel at this time. Few fire towers were built after World War II because of increasing dependence on air surveillance. Today, 50 permanent lookout towers remain on the forests of Arizona. Most are used seasonally, throughout the dry, windy spring and during the first rains of summer.

The Forest Service has always emphasized fire detection and suppression to protect the timber reserves. Fire guards patrolled on horseback or searched for fires from high vantage points in the early years of this century. Wildfires were suppressed as quickly as possible, although forester and conservationist Aldo Leopold, in a review of Southwest fire activities between 1919 and 1923, reported the beneficial effects of fire in maintaining pine forests and in brush control. The Forest Service now emphasizes prevention of fire damage rather than strict suppression. This, fire may enhance natural conditions and reduce fire hazards. Modern fire fighting equipment such as airplanes and fire retardants, sophisticated communication systems, and fire management plans help protect and maintain forest and range lands today. The lookout tower, used for almost a century, still plays a valuable role in protecting our forests resources.

This Lookout Tower is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Please help us protect it. 


When on Mt. Lemmon, visitors are encouraged to take the short hike down the Meadow Trail to the Lemmon Rock Lookout.


4 responses to “A Visit To The Lemmon Rock Lookout In The Catalina Mountains

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  1. wouldn’t mind that view


  2. Reblogged this on Becoming is Superior to Being and commented:

    This lookout perched on Lemmon Rock on Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalina mountains is a classic landmark. Four years ago today I had a chance to visit it and learn about the structure and its history. Current access by the public is not a easy as it once was.– kenne


  3. Thank you Kenne for reprinting the historic information. Ricki


    Ricki Mensching
  4. Kenne;
    This is David from the tower. I just came across this. I’m sorry to say Gus had to be put down in Dec 2016. Due to old age. He had a great life living in four states, working on three National Forests. After I completed my Master’s I accepted a job with The Karuk Tribe in Northern California. Call me if you get this message it’s been a few years. (530) 469-3207


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