Saturday, July 27, 2013

Link Lake Lookout Tower

Link Lake was an 81 foot ladder tower located in what is now George Washington State Forest (established 1931) in Itasca County. Built in 1930 by the state forest service, survey notes from 1947 described it being "about 100 ft. high with a square structure on top about 10 ft. square."

The site is a few yards off Itasca County 340, Link Lake (Lynx on some maps but Link is DNR lake name) is just to the south.

Leg footing
July 2013
Leg footing
July 2013
Tower site. The old footings are in the brush in the background.
July 2013

All photos
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fire Tower, Superior National Forest, Grand Marais, Minn

Update 11-12-2014: This is likely the second Cascade tower also called the Trout Lake tower.


Another tower photograph from the Cook County Historical Society.

c 1936
Cook County Historical Society
(all rights reserved)
by permission

Any ideas about which tower this is? Lima Mountain maybe?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cascade Lookout Tower, revisited

Two Cascade lookout towers stood on hills west of Grand Marais. The 1928 map seen below shows the first tower as Cascade State Lookout. The tower was built around 1923.

portion of 1928 map of Superior National Forest
Iron Range Research Center

This photograph shows the tower and cabin (which I had misidentified as the Sioux River tower):

note tower in background, no date
(DNR-Forestry Heritage Sites Program)
The Cascade cabin with lookout tower in background. 

The photograph below is from the National Archives 1 via Wikimedia Commons:

Original caption: Cascade Tower, Sec 23, T61N, R2W.
Cascade Lookout Tower,  July 20 1923
By Unknown or not provided (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The towers shown in the two photographs look to be the same. The captioning for the second photograph is useful as it provides good location reference which supports tower identification. Section 23, Township 61N, Range 2W is west of Grand Marais. The first tower was located to the northeast of its successor tower.

The first tower was replaced in 1933/34 with a 100 foot tower which was called Trout Lake or New Cascade Lookout.

A newspaper article in the Cook County News Herald from 1933 reported the New Cascade Lookout:


Cook County News Herald  7-6-1933

A 100 foot tower, already ordered by the forestry department, is to be put up at Trout Lake, west of town. This tower, and new cabin, will take the place of the one now known as Cascade Lookout.

The Pine mountain lookout tower has just been completed. A new cabin was also erected serving as living quarters for J.H. Pinkerton, who is on the job there.


This photograph is likely the second Cascade tower; referred to as new Cascade or Trout Lake tower.
c 1936
Cook County Historical Society
(all rights reserved)
by permission

Trout Lake, now called Deer Yard Lake, is a short distance southwest from Section 23. Survey notes from 1934 put the Trout Lake survey station "NEAR CENTER OF BASE OF TROUT LAKE FIRE LOOKOUT TOWER (ALSO KNOWN AS NEW CASCADE)." - NOAA

section of 1936 Cook County map showing "new" Cascade L.O.
Minnesota Digital Library

Location of the two Cascade towers near Grand Marais

The first Cascade tower (depicted in the photographs above) was removed after the "new" Cascade tower was erected. The photograph below from the Minnesota Historical Society is of the original tower site:

Former fire tower hill above Cascade River 
Photographer:  Norton & Peel Date:  10/6/1947
Minnesota Historical Society by permission

The new 100 foot Cascade (Trout Lake Fire Lookout Tower or New Cascade in survey notes) could have been was a ladder or stairway tower.


The first Cascade Lookout stood on a hill overlooking the Cascade River, thus the source of the tower name. The second tower stood on a hill overlooking Deer Yard (Trout) Lake and was called the Trout Lake or New Cascade tower.


Early maps and even contemporary Mn Dot maps show the Sioux River Lookout as Cascade Lookout. This entry is about the tower which is usually referred to as the Cascade tower.


Any descriptive information or photographs of the "new" Cascade tower is welcome.

1 If you search the National Archives and find the Cascade Tower reference you will see a photograph of a campsite near a lake, no tower in sight. That error has not been remedied. If you go to Wikimedia Commons though, you find the photograph above of the 1923 Cascade tower.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Carlton Peak Lookout Tower

Survey notes (1952) for Carlton Peak describe a 35 foot tower "with four legs cemented in solid rock."

Carlton Peak Lookout Tower. W. Mann, Ranger in the foreground. September 1965
Historic Photography - Superior National Forest
a set on Flickr

A combination ladder stairway tower that was located near Tofte.

TOFTE, likewise the name of a township and village, section 21, founded in 1898, is in honor of settlers having this surname, derived from their former home in the district of Bergen, Norway.John Tofte, his twin brother, Andrew, and brothers Torger and Hans O. Engelsen came in 1893; they selected Carlton as the name because the settlement was on the lower slope of Carlton Peak, but the name was in use; thus they named the community for their home in Norway. Edward Toftey came in 1899, opening the first mill and employing over 25 men. Most of the town was destroyed in a forest fire in 1910 and rebuilt; its post office opened in 1897 with Hans Engelsen, postmaster.
The most conspicuous and highest summit of this range, at its west end close back from the village of Tofte, was named Carlton Peak in 1848 by Col. Charles Whittlesey in honor of Reuben B. Carlton, of Fond du Lac, Minn., who in that year ascended this mountain with Whittlesey, for the geological survey of this region by David Dale Owen. He is likewise honored by the name of Carlton County. Another peak is called Good Harbor Hill, rising about a mile west of the bay so named. Minnesota Place Names, A Geographical Encyclopedia, Warren Upham

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

CCC Towers

The Civilian Conservation Corps was active in much of Minnesota and notably in the northern forest areas. Forest camps planted trees, built roads, improved parks, and built fire towers.

 An Interview with Minnesota CCC
Alumnus Monty Dehn
video - Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Magazine
(Link no longer valid)

Towers in Minnesota erected by the CCC and still standing include:

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Little America Island from Black Bay Forestry Tower

The view to the northeast from Black Bay Fire Tower (c 1974).

Little America Island from Black Bay Forestry Tower c. 1974
Minnesota Historical Society
by permission