Union (Trail of Tears) Lookout
US 81, IL 2
July 3, 2017 photo

July 3, 2017 photo - courtesy of Calvin Beckmann

Lookout Details

Registry Numbers US 81, IL 2 (view other lookouts in United States, Illinois)
Date Registered March 12, 1994
Location Trail of Tears State Forest
Union County, Illinois
Coordinates N 37° 28.792' W 089° 21.467' (view using Google Maps)
N 37° 28' 47" W 089° 21' 28"
N 37.479861° W 089.357778°
Elevation 579 ft (176 m)
Built 1936-1938
Administered by Illinois Department of Conservation
Cooperators Illinois Department of Conservation


The Union Lookout, also known as Trail of Tears Lookout, is located in southern Illinois in Trail of Tears State Forest. It was constructed between 1936 and 1938 by the CCC. The 80’ steel tower with 7’x7’ cab is one of the few points from which visitors may view the Shawnee Hill Country. The unusual name relates to the forced move of 10,000 Cherokee Indians from North Carolina to Oklahoma in 1839. Because of floating ice in the Mississippi River the expedition camped near the site in January before crossing.


Change Basemap


Union Lookout circa 1994

Union Lookout circa 1994

Visit Reports

July 5, 2017: Calvin Beckmann


Needs paint? Yes
Shutters OK? Not Applicable
Condition of wood OK? Not Applicable
Stairs OK? No
Glass intact? Not Applicable
Good condition? No
Comments: Steel structure that has not been maintained. Most of the wood steps are missing, or rotten. Access to top of the tower is not possible. Paint is failing throughout, resulting in degradation of metal.

Electronics and Enroachments

Are electronic sites enroaching on tower? No

Access and Signs

NHLR sign posted? Yes
Directions to tower signed? No
Comments? Tower location has been identified on site maps and physical location is adjacent to South Forest Rd.


Staffed? No

Opportunities for Volunteer Support

Volunteers staffing opportunities? No
Volunteer maintenance opportunities? No