Armstrong Hill Lookout
US 1041, CA 99
Nick Sower photo

Nick Sower photo

Lookout Details

Registry Numbers US 1041, CA 99 (view other lookouts in United States, California)
Date Registered September 3, 2014
Nominated by M. Sills
Location Eldorado National Forest
El Dorado County, California
Coordinates N 38° 32.540' W 120° 23.057' (view using Google Maps)
N 38° 32' 32" W 120° 23' 03"
N 38.542330° W 120.384280°
Elevation 5,707 ft (1,739 m)
Administered by U.S. Forest Service
Cooperators Eldorado National Forest

Map

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Visit Reports

September 4, 2004: M. Sills

Condition

Needs paint? Yes
Shutters OK? No Response
Condition of wood OK? No Response
Stairs OK? No Response
Glass intact? No Response
Good condition? No Response
Comments: This is a USFS LO. The LO is closed but the grounds are accessible to visitors. A USFS employee told me this LO is scheduled to be dismantled. However, there is no money in the Eldorado NF budget to do so at this time. There are 4 structures on the site. <br />1>the LO <br />2>Fire Watch's residence <br />3>garage/barn/workshop <br />4>some sort of high raised platform with 2 large tanks. Water? <br /> <br /> <br />Directions> <br />From Jackson, Ca drive EAST on California 88 to HAM's STATION. The dirt road to the LO is across the highway just WEST of the posted private property. The LO is 1 to 2 mi up the dirt road. 2wheel drive can make it easy. <br /> <br />I have .jpg photos <br />How can I get them to this website ??

Electronics and Enroachments

Are electronic sites enroaching on tower? No

Access and Signs

NHLR sign posted? No
Directions to tower signed? No

Staffing

Staffed? No

Opportunities for Volunteer Support

Volunteers staffing opportunities? No Response
Volunteer maintenance opportunities? No Response

January 1, 2003: Tom Glickman

Condition

Needs paint? No Response
Shutters OK? No Response
Condition of wood OK? No Response
Stairs OK? No Response
Glass intact? No Response
Good condition? No Response

Electronics and Enroachments

Are electronic sites enroaching on tower? No

Access and Signs

NHLR sign posted? No
Directions to tower signed? No

Staffing

Staffed? No

Opportunities for Volunteer Support

Volunteers staffing opportunities? No Response
Volunteer maintenance opportunities? No Response

Other Comments

Comments I have no additions or corrections to your listing for Armstrong Hill Lookout, but in the late 1930s and early 1940s it was my "summer camp." The warden, Mike Donovan and his wife Aileen were my uncle and aunt. <br /> <br />Mike started with the Forest Service in the mid-1930s at Lumberyard Ranger Station where he worked with the local CCC camp. He moved to Armstrong in 1939 or 1940, stayed there until about 1943, then went to the Caldor Guard Station and a year later went to Pacific Ranger Station where he finished his career as the Fire Suppression Foreman. During the war, the suppression crews were conscientious objectors who were pressed into government service. The COs at Pacific Ranger Station were Amish. <br /> <br />The Armstrong Hill Lookout I recall consisted of a recently-installed 80-foot tower made by Chicago Aeromotor. About fifty feet away from the tower base was a tree with lineman's steps installed. Mike told us kids that was the original lookout. Whether that is true or if it was a "Mikeism" I don't know. <br /> <br />Other buildings were: a combination garage and storage area for fire-fighting equipment, a two room wooden building that served as their quarters and down the hill beyond the tower and garage, an out house. All were painted the standard Forest Service tobacco brown; the paint being manufactured at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. Next to the house was a small weather station where Mike took temperature and relative humidity reading three times a day and dutifully called the results to Lumberyard Ranger Station. <br /> <br />There was no running water or electricity on the Hill; the only utility being the Forest Service telephone line. There were two hand-cranked Kellogg telephones; one in the tower and the other on the porch of the living quarters. I assume it was on the porch to provide communications for anyone who happened on the Hill after the fire season. <br /> <br />That building had two rooms a bedroom and combination kitchen-dining room. There was a wood stove in the kitchen and we had to heat the water on the stove. Laundry and bathing was through the use of a large galvanized tub placed on the kitchen floor. <br /> <br />On the side of the building adjacent to the kitchen sink was a raised platform with a water tank. I don't recall the size of the tank. When Mike came down from the tower at the end of the day, he loaded what appeared to be 20 or 25 gallon milk cans into the back of his pick-up (no government truck provided) and drove down to Ham's Station at the base of the hill to load water from the pump next to the corral. He would then drive back up the hill and fill the tank. <br /> <br />At the time Ham's was owned and operated by the Pasquetti (sp?) family. The father, an Italian immigrant, was quite a character. I recall being in the bar - it was part of the grocery store at that time - when a traveler came in and asked for an ice cold beer. Old Man Pasquetti (sp?) told him in his broken English that he did not have ice cold beer. When the customer complained, the Old Man opened the vertical beer chest and said, not ice cold, snow cold! Indeed, the box was packed with snow. <br /> <br />There were two roads to the Hill; the one from Ham's mentioned and a second old logging road the went down the south side of the Hill. Several hundred yards down that road was a spring that served as the Armstrong Hill refrigerator. <br /> <br />As kids, we loved climbing the tower and spending the day with Mike. He had built a bench where he could lie down while maintaining watch through the windows. His entertainment was eavesdropping on phone calls. In the meantime we - my brother and sometimes a cousin - would help Mike keep watch a would give a shout of joy when we saw what we thought was smoke. Actually what we saw was dust either from a herd of cattle being moved or from a vehicle on some dirt road. <br /> <br />Until World War II, the Hill was only occupied during the fire season. However, after the US got into the war, the lookouts became part of the air defense system and the wardens (and wives and visiting nephews) were Air Craft Spotters on a year round basis <br /> <br />That meant that a lot of provisions, wood, etc, were stockpiled on the Hill in the fall. During the winter, Mike would bundle up, don snow shoes and with one of his dogs would hike down to Ham's for fresh provisions and mail. When Ham's was snowed in, the hike was much longer as he then went to Cook's Station. <br /> <br />Realistically, very few planes flew over or near Armstrong, although there was one exception. The Army Air Force had a basic training field someplace in western Nevada. Every few weeks a "graduating" class would fly to Mather and McClellan Fields at Sacramento to further their training as bomber and fighter pilots. <br /> <br />The only Forest Service names I remember are Sid Manwaring, the Fire Chief at Pacific, and Milt Morris, the Ranger. In his first years with the Forest Service, Milt used to inspect the forest on horse back. <br /> <br />Yes, I have a lot of sentimental attachment to Armstrong Hill Lookout. It was a place where three young boys learned to appreciate our forests, the "Mikeisms" such as never climb over a log, it is much easier to walk around it, and to spend part of our summer sleeping under the stars in a USFS sleeping bag that had the be rolled up each morning and returned to the garage in case of a fire or perhaps one of the bosses came around.