Watch Tower Preservation in Willamette Valley
Historic fire watch towers experienced a stint of deferred maintenance causing many to be eliminated or left for nature to be re-claimed. Recently the National Park Service has found a creative use for these wildfire spotting icons which is converting them into short vacation rentals. Vintage Window Restoration has been fortunate enough to be involved with the University of Oregon’s Pacific Northwest Preservation Field School in preserving the Tolmie Peak Fire Lookout Tower.
Watch tower preservation is a unique approach in preserving a structure many miles from civilization. The treatments can be subtle, but will add duration to the tower’s well-being for many years to come. As time progresses, the sun, rain, snow, wind, freeze and thaw will begin to cause wood to become parched of natural oils creating unwanted fractures to occur. Exposed and misplaced nails will corrode, reacting with the tannins in the wood causing wood to decay faster. Expansion and contraction of window sash frames will cause the glazing putty to failing as a result deteriorating the joinery. Heavy snow loads can cause structural joinery to loosen and with it the roof, siding, or stilts.
The preservation approach resolves these issues time inevitably brings. It takes a trained eye and thorough understanding of a watch tower’s construction methods and its local environment to “see” what lies beneath the surface to make the proper repairs. Knowledge in multiple construction disciplines are required from glazier, roofer, framer, finish carpenter, and construction historian to have a thorough understanding in what needs to be performed and done properly.
This type of work was performed on the Tolmie Peak Fire Lookout Tower located in the Mount Rainier National Park in the state of Washington. The watch tower was located in Eunice Lake, roughly 20 miles from the nearest town on the southwestern side of the National Park. Eunice Lake served as base camp for sleeping, cooking, milling and sanitation facilities. The watch tower was a 3 mile hike gaining 1,500 feet in elevation. Tools and materials had to be delivered by foot. Numerous logistics were involved for working in a federal government agency, including camp location and setup, safety, wildlife knowledge, potential hazard conditions, weather changes, and security from potential theft and vandalism.
This particular project was unique in the sense that when working with the University of Oregon I found myself working and sharing my knowledge with individuals that have not worked in a remote wilderness setting or have extensive knowledge in historic preservation practices. Instruction is an additional service from Vintage Window Restoration. It was a pleasure and rewarding experience to use those skills during this project as well. Along with watch tower restoration and back country preservation and documentation, our business covers every aspect of wood windows from repair, new wood windows, wooden screens, exterior facade woodworking and so much in between. Contact Vintage Window Restoration for all of your watch tower preservation needs.