Pegleg Lookout Ribbon Cutting Ceremony held at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 22

The public has an opportunity to celebrate the recently restored historic Pegleg Lookout at the Lassen County Fairgrounds at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 22, according to a statement from Cal Fire.

 In 1984, Cal Fire removed the old Pegleg Lookout, which had been in service since 1913, and replaced it with a new one. The old lookout was dismantled and shipped to Smokey Bear Park located at the Lassen County Fairgrounds where it was reassembled with the idea of using it for educational purposes.

Unfortunately, several years ago, the tower had to be condemned due to needed repairs. On June 16, 2023, a restoration project began which included a new roof plus rebuilding, reinforcing and painting the lookout tower and cab both inside and out. The project is now complete, and July 22, 2023, the lookout will be open to the public once again.

“Join us for a ribbon cutting ceremony, tour the old lookout and learn about the Lookout Program,” said Jennifer “Jas” Shaw

Fire Prevention Specialist II / Unit PIO. ” We have restored our historic Pegleg Lookout located at Smokey Bear Park inside Lassen County Fairgrounds. The lookout was closed to due needed repairs many years ago. This lookout has some great history and we would love the community to come see it during the ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, July 22, 2023. We will have multiple agency representatives speaking about this lookout.”

Pegleg timeline from
1913: The Red River Lumber Company established and built a lookout on Peg Leg Mountain, packing the material to the site using horses.  The lookout was connected to Westwood headquarters by telephone. When a fire was reported a crew was sent out from the mill by railroad to extinguish the blaze.Dec. 6, 1913: “During the summer just closed three lookout houses were constructed on the Lassen National Forest. These houses are each 10 feet square with windows all the way around.  One is on Peg Leg Mountain in the Mountain Meadows country and overlooks the eastern portion of the forest. These houses were first cut out according to plan, put together, then taken down and bundled up, each piece and bundle being marked. They were then hauled as near the desired location as possible. The first two houses were carried to the top of the peaks by pack train. Each lookout house is equipped with a stove, a bed which folds against the wall, a folding table and a telephone which connects either with the supervisor’s headquarters at Mineral or with the district ranger’s.”   (Chico Record)
Aug. 15, 1916: “Alice Brearcliffe and Edna Bayles of Red Bluff, and Clyde S. Head, of Oakland paid a visit to the government lookout on top of Peg Leg Mountain last week. The lookout is 7 miles north of Westwood and the trip is a hard one. The party was so hungry when they reached the lookout that they ate all the beans in store and their clothing was so torn by the brush that they had to repair them with gunny sacks so it is reported.” (Red Bluff Daily News)
1920’s:  The U.S. Forest Service took over operations of the lookout from the lumber company.
Sept. 7, 1928: “Frank Norvell, government lookout at the Pegleg station in Lassen National Forest for the past 12 years is in Riverside hospital in critical condition following a stroke of paralysis. Norvell was stricken while on duty Monday afternoon. He was brought immediately to the hospital where little hope is held for his recovery. He is more than 70 years old.  He is not married.”  (Lassen Advocate)
July 26, 1929: “A telephone call from the lookout situated on Pegleg Mountain caused some alarm in Susanville Tuesday when he announced the presence of a forest fire on Worley Mountain about one-half mile from Eagle Lake Road. Sheriff Leavitt immediately gathered a group of firefighters and descended on the scene of the alleged blaze but was unable to locate the spot. The sheriff returned after making a thorough investigation of the vicinity without locating the blaze. Later it was discovered the Red River Lumber Company was engaged in clearing some land and burning some brush which may have accounted for the alarm.”  (Lassen Advocate)
July 1, 1938: “Dave Fairbairn is the lookout on Pegleg, one of the young men attending Lassen Junior College at Susanville interested in forestry. He has already made pets out of chipmunks, one in particular comes up very close to be fed. The deer stumble over the guy wires at night, those wires that have been placed there to brace the building, much to Dave’s disgust. He likes to be able to sleep in peace once in awhile. The other day a big brown bear came up to lick the snow near the station, and finally ambled away.  The worst of predators are the porcupines. The building itself shows pronounced indications of having been nibbled on, and Dave stated that he lost half a tire cover not so long ago through one of the pesky things chewing on it. The lookout has two means of communication, radio and telephone. The radio is an S set, the smallest of our sets in use, and is only workable when one has direct visibility with the receiving station.  It has the power to transmit messages, also receive, up to an approximate maximum of 15 miles.  The loneliness of the job is somewhat relieved by the attendant being able to talk with others by telephone and radio.  And visitors are a welcome solace.”  (Lassen Advocate)
1970: Due to boundary changes the lookout was turned over to the state forestry department for operations.
Aug. 15, 1984:  “The new CDF fire lookout atop Peg Leg Mountain was dedicated last Friday morning. Lloyd Keefer of CDF who also serves as Lassen County Fire Warden, handled the dedication. Keefer began by introducing Pat and Dee Jones, who have worked the lookout for 15 years. The construction of the lookout is unique in that it was all prefabricated and put together with inmate labor, then labeled and dismantled and shipped to the site where it was reassembled. Keefer explained that plans now call for a replica of the old Peg Leg lookout to be reconstructed at the Lassen County Fairgrounds through a joint effort by the Northeastern California Fire Council. Much of the materials salvaged from the old lookout will be used for the replica.”   (Lassen County Times)
July 9, 1985: “Visitors to the Lassen County Fair this year will have the added enjoyment of being able to visit a high mountain fire lookout that has been relocated to the fairgrounds. Through the joined efforts of members of the Lassen County Fire Prevention Council, the old lookout from Pegleg Mountain has been reassembled at the fairgrounds and will become a working exhibit of the fire spotter’s art.”   (Lassen County Times)