The old forest fire lookout on top of Old Glory.

FORR volunteers begin work on Old Glory fire lookout restoration

Volunteers have started working on the restoration of the Old Glory forest fire lookout.

Volunteers have started working on the restoration of the Old Glory forest fire lookout.

The restoration is being paid for in part by the $85,000 Canada 150 grant received by the Friends of the Rossland Range (FORR). A community discussion on how to go about the restoration began in December at a public meeting.

A major concern raised at that meeting was the lightning risk associated with the structure. Though the Old Glory lookout is lightning grounded, the blast from a lightning strike can cause concussive and auditory injury. To protect Old Glory hikers, volunteers have begun the restoration process by putting up lightening warning signs. As for work on the lookout itself, so far a number of contractors have been up to assess the work that needs to be done.

“The hard part of that project is obviously getting up there and finding people that know what’s going on up there,” said Demitri Lesniewicz, who has been leading the project. “So basically we’ve been talking to contractors that have… in many cases prior to this project even taking place …expressed an interest.”

A maintenance assessment has been done on the lightning system, the windows and doors have been assessed for replacement, and stone masons have assessed the work that needs to be done on the crumbling foundation.

Given that the lookout is located on the highest mountain in the region, doing the actual restoration will require the use of a helicopter.

“There’s just too much material that needs to be taken up, and there’s a lot of material that has to be taken off as well,” explains Lesniewicz. “The contractors need their stuff taken off, but also there’s lots of garbage at the top. We’ve sort of done an assessment as to what is and isn’t garbage.”

The question of what is an artifact and what is garbage sparked a debate at the December meeting, but Lesniewicz said Recreation Sites and Trails BC employed Heather Smith, who creates interpretive signs for the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and she met with interested locals to discuss the garbage question.

“Basically it came down to safety,” said Lesniewicz. “Is an old tin can sharp? Could this hurt someone? And it came down to historic value, so a lot of the large items like there was an old washing machine will stay up there.”

Inside the lookout, there will be a firefinder table, provided by the ministry, and interpretive signs created by Smith. The set up of the interior and the signs will help give visitors a sense of what it was like at the lookout during the 51 years it operated (1926-1977). The project primarily focuses on the fire lookout, but Lesniewicz said one of the goals is also to make it so hikers can walk through the old foundation of the weather station.

The restoration will take place over two years. This year, the plan is to maintain the lightening system, fix the foundation, and replace the windows and door. Next year volunteers will replace the siding and redo the interior. “We might actually do some of the interpretive signage next year as well,” said Lesniewicz.

No additional volunteers are needed on the project at this time.