Bertha Hill Lookout
US 29, ID 3
Bertha Hill Lookout

Bertha Hill Lookout - courtesy of Ron Kemnow Collection

Lookout Details

Registry Numbers US 29, ID 3 (view other lookouts in United States, Idaho)
Date Registered October 8, 1991
Nominated by Richard Bovey, Chief Fire Warden, Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association, Inc.
Location Clearwater County, Idaho
Coordinates N 46° 45.830' W 115° 47.505' (view using Google Maps)
N 46° 45' 50" W 115° 47' 30"
N 46.763840° W 115.791751°
Elevation 5,477 ft (1,669 m)
Administered by Potlatch Corporation
Cooperators Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association


Bertha Hill Lookout, owned by the Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association in Idaho, has considerable historical importance. The site of one of the first lookouts in the West, and the first lookout in Idaho, Bertha Hill is considered to be the birthplace of cooperative forest fire protection. The first lookout was posted in 1900, well before state and federal programs were established. The original lookout was a simple pole ladder to a seat on a large limb. Mable Gray, the camp cook at Bertha Hill timber camp 1/8 mile down the east sleep, rode her horse to the tree and sat on the limb daily after doing the morning dishes.

In 1906, the Clearwater Timber Protective Assocation established a crude open pole platform atop three cut-off fir trees 100 feet south of the original lookout tree. It was replaced in 1910 by a 37' crude open pole platform adjacent to the 1906 tower.

A 20' pole tower with an enclosed 6'x6' cab was built in 1918. Lookout Glen Frazier was killed by lightning while on duty in this tower in 1931. It was replaced in 1933 by a 40' pole L-4 tower built at a slightly different location atop Bertha Hill's main summit.

The current 56-ft steel tower, with a 14- by 14-ft live-in cab, is the fifth to be located on the site. It was constructed in 1959 and includes a public observation platform at the 46-ft level. Lookout Maida Talbot died in a fall from the tower in 1966.


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Photo courtesy of Ray Saladin, whose father served at nearby CCC Camp 1920, P 212

Photo courtesy of the Ron Kemnow Collection