In their heyday during the 1930's there were over 8,000 fire lookouts that dotted mountain tops across the United States with over 600 in California.
Today there are only a few hundred in operation. Once considered a proud symbol of our nation's conservation heritage, fire lookouts are a fading legacy. There are 11 lookouts left on the Sequoia National Forest. *8 are manned in the summertime.* Oak Flat Lookout can be rented out, click here for more info!
The Needles and Buck Rock are perhaps the two most spectacularly located. They're perched on high granite needles that also make for some fantastic climbing opportunities!
Live webcam views from many of these lookouts can be found here.
"Let us take the lookout building which is now being erected on the Needles Rock and review the opportunities offered the enrollees who work on this structure.
The Needles are immediately west of the Kern River and some 42 miles north of Kernville. The tip of the needle is over 8000 feet in elevation and the building is to be constructed on this tip. The area on top of the needle is approximately 14 feet by 14 feet, with a sheer drop on three sides varying from 60 to over 400 feet. As this is dangerous work, only a small picked crew of enrollees is used in the construction – boys who are sure-footed and not effected by the height. Besides this precaution, all safety measures possible are taken, the top crew working at all times with safety belts. A small camp is located at the Quaking Aspen Campground where the building crew stays during the week. The materials are packed in over two miles of trail to Needles Rock.
The first step is to lay out the foundation and orient the building with cardinal points. The enrollee has a chance to actually use a compass and is instructed by practical application in the use of the square. The next step is to drill the rock for dowell pins. He gets instruction in the use of the single jack and hand steel in drilling. He helps to build form and tie reinforcement steel; he learns the practical method of mixing cement by hand and the proper proportions of sand, water, gravel and cement for the required concrete. He helps the carpenter cut the studing and rafters and learn the practical use of the templet and carpenter’s tools. When he returns at night to the camp his instructions may be continued.
On the building there are only five enrollees working, but the same chance is given to every enrollee to better himself in every phase of our work."
From an article on the opportunities for CCC enrollees, found in the August 18, 1938 issue of the Porterville Recorder