Okanogan P.O. Lookout Site

Page Type Page Type: Custom Object
Location Lat/Lon: 48.36329°N / 119.58177°W
Additional Information Object Type: Lookout Site
Additional Information County: Okanogan

Background (Reason For Page)

The Okanogan Post Office Lookout was a rooftop firefinder station that existed during the 1930s. This lookout site is listed in Ray Kresek’s “Fire Lookouts of the Northwest” book and at the time of this page creation it was still shown on several resources as a lookout still standing at its officially used location (because the lookout building is still standing there).

The building still stands and is relatively unchanged but no longer houses a post office or Forest Service office.

NOTE: The current post office building is newer and was never used for firewatching in any capacity.

Some people have questioned the validity of the Okanogan Post Office Lookout as ever being a lookout site.
However, historical references and documents verify the existence of the lookout:

Here is a written response e-mailed to Craig Willis from Barry George of the Okanogan County Historical Society during May 2014:

Hi Craig-

To answer your question directly….the ‘lookout building’ was atop the First National Bank building….directly across the street from the Blackwell building. The bank building is now part of the Rawson’s Store. The original U. S. Forest Service headquarters (Supervisor’s Office) was in the Schaller building (torn down and replaced by the North Cascade National Bank building. Next the Supervisor’s Office was moved to the second floor of the First National Bank building.


Here is a written response from Ray Kresek during early October 2014 that was posted on another website:

Here's what I have on a lookout atop the post office building in Okanogan.
I obtained from Barry George in 2002 an Osborne Photo Recording Transit
panoramic photo, taken on 10/10/30 from atop the Okanogan Post Office
building, located at the SW corner of 2nd Avenue & Queen Street in downtown
Okanogan. Photo set was by "W.B.O." I presume that would be Wm. B.
Osborne, inventor of the camera that took all of panoramic photos from LOs
in the 1930s. I have poor photocopies of this panoramic photo and the 1st
National Bank building from which the set was taken. This doesn't prove
that a fire lookout was ever there. It only proves that one was proposed in 1930.
Panoramic photos were taken from every existing lookout and some
proposed lookout sites between 1930 and 1940.

I scoured the Okanogan NF Supervisor's Office on 11/1/79 with then Forest
Archaeologist Alan Gibbs. The Structure Inventory Book at the Okanogan SO
showed an inventory of 28 lookouts on the Chelan (Okanogan) NF on the books
between 1921 and 1957. An entry read: "Okanogan Post Office Building had a lookout... 1930".

That's all I have on it; but it's enough to assume that for at least a time, the rooftop of the Okanogan Post Office did have a fire lookout. Whether it was ever used for anything but training, who knows?

Jackass Butte LO, on the small knoll just east of downtown Okanogan, had a good view up and down the Okanogan/Omak/Malott valley, but could see little or no national forest land; yet the USFS manned it from 1939 until after WW-II.

Ray Kresek

Getting There

In the middle of Okanogan, at the southwest corner of Second Avenue South & Queen Street.



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