Red Mountain (Signal Peak) Lookout - Tahoe National Forest
US 1162, CA 222
Red Mountain (Signal Peak) Lookout - 2003

Red Mountain (Signal Peak) Lookout - 2003 - courtesy of The Cooper Collection of US Railroad History

Lookout Details

Registry Numbers US 1162, CA 222 (view other lookouts in United States, California)
Date Registered April 2, 2020
Nominated by Brad Eells
Location Tahoe National Forest
Nevada County, California
Coordinates N 39° 20.157' W 120° 32.423' (view using Google Maps)
N 39° 20' 09" W 120° 32' 25"
N 39.335953° W 120.540389°
Elevation 7,710 ft (2,350 m)
Built 1909
Administered by US Forest Service - Tahoe National Forest
Cooperators Southern Pacific Railroad


Red Mountain is the oldest fire detection site in California.

In 1876 the Central Pacific Railroad established a Fire Lookout Station just below Signal Peak, 7,680' up on Red Mountain in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Cisco Grove, CA. The Southern Pacific replaced the original wooden structure with this stone cabin in 1909. It remained in continuous service until 1934 to protect against fires in the many miles of original showsheds along the grade over the Sierra Nevada Mountains between Blue Canon and Donner Summit. - The GreatRails North American Railroad Photo Archive

Red Mountain, also known as Signal Peak, has a view of most of the snow sheds so the railroad built a stone building at the top staffed 24 hours a day by two fire watchers. Only a year after the telephone was invented, one was installed on Signal Peak. Seeing a fire, fire watchers would telephone Cisco down the road. An operator there would telegraph the fire’s location and the special fire trains would head out. - Donner Summit Historical Society


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Showing the 1876 and 1909 buildings

Showing the 1876 and 1909 buildings - courtesy of Donner Summit Historical Society

Panoramic view with the old lookout in the foreground

Panoramic view with the old lookout in the foreground - courtesy of Bill Oudegeest