Watch Tower Re-Roofing in Willamette Valley
Historic fire watch towers experienced a stint of deferred maintenance causing many to be eliminated or left for nature to re-claim. Recently the National Forest 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 strongly involved with the Sand Mountain Society in repairing these unique structures, including installing new cedar shingles.
The process is labor intensive using only hand tools and a keen eye in choosing the right shingle for the right spot. Before the first expired shingle is removed from the tower, the roof cavity is completely cleaned out for potential mouse, wasp or other insect rodent living spaces which requires hazards material PPE. Once the space is cleared, the Lightning Strike System and flashing is gently removed and each old shingle is removed including the nails. The shiplap roof decking is re-fastened, repaired or replace. Typically this is the only opportunity to easily access the rafter ends, out riggers, and other places of joinery for repairs, so it is common practice to remove the lowest shiplap decking board to investigate any potential discrepancies along the way. After all of the repairs to the roof and other parts of the lookout cabin are re-mediated, the new cedar shingles can be laid. Depending on time of year, the entire roof can be removed or by sections in the event rain occurs during work.
Installing a new wood shingle roof is just one aspect of performing the work. Fire watch towers are located in very remote, high elevation, rugged road locations that at times are at a one mile steep incline hike from the parking location. A trip to the hardware store or lumber yard is an entire day travel and the hospital is the same. Life flights are seldom an option and numerous hazards exist from falls, work injuries, dehydration, sudden weather changes, such as lightning storms with heavy rain fall, sudden wild fire emergency evacuation, and wildlife. Almost every member of our team has training in work site safety, remote location first aid, and the equipment to comfortably work in remote locations for days on end in all weather conditions. This work is incredibly rewarding to our passion in preserving a piece of American history in locations that are not only a challenge in restoration and repair methods, but equally in logistics.
This project was located on Squaw Peak in the Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest between the California border and Jacksonville, Oregon. The structure was used as a fire and foreign enemy lookout during the 1930’s and 1940’s. The tower was decommissioned shortly after World War Two due to modern technology, such as airplanes and eventually satellite. The tower was still protected and “mothballed” and fortunately was never demolished. The tower is a four hour drive from Albany taking you through some incredibly beautiful changes in landscape, climate and culture. Though it is not located among the mountain peaks of the Cascade, there is something comforting about seeing the high elevation grassland and meadows among very diverse coniferous forests on the steep, rugged ridge and hill sides of the Siskiyou region of Oregon.
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 repair needs.