Cornwall fire lookout, with volunteers, during a work bee on Aug. 17, 2019. See below the story for a close-up of the tower in 2019 and a picture taken of it in 1955. Photo: Wes Kibbble

Many hands make light work at historic Cornwall fire lookout

Volunteers worked to restore the site, which a Journal reader remembers from a 1955 visit

On Aug. 17 volunteers—some of them from the coast—were at the historic Cornwall fire lookout near Ashcroft, carrying out repairs to the structure.

The event was hosted by the Four Wheel Drive Association of BC, which took over management of the lookout in 2015 following a report in The Journal that BC Parks was planning on dismantling the lookout unless an organization or group of volunteers interested in maintaining the structure and holding liability for it stepped forward.

READ MORE: New life for historic Cornwall fire lookout

Wes Kibble—regional director of the Four Wheel Drive Association of BC—organized the event, which saw 14 adults, two children, and three dogs working at the lookout all day. He reports that they got a lot more accomplished than expected, including the replacement of the stairs; replacement of two posts and a 6’ by 6’ beam on the east side; and replacement of some rotten runners on the north side.

Kibble says that “Two brave and determined members braved the basement armed with masks, gloves, shovels, and brooms and cleaned the basement of crap. Literally a crappy job!”

While this was going on, volunteers scraped paint off the upper deck and repainted most of the upper outside of the lookout, which was built in the 1950s.

In a wonderful coincidence, Helen Dye of New Westminster—who had read of the rescue of the Cornwall lookout in The Journal—recently wrote to the paper and sent some historic photographs of the site.

“You are probably flooded with memories of Cornwall Lookout,” she wrote. “Wonderful to read of its rescue.

READ MORE: The Editor’s Desk: Saving a bit of history

“My family had a cabin at Langley (Hammond) Lake. Sadly the lake [on Hat Creek Road south of Ashcroft] has been dry for many years and the cabin burned.”

Dye enclosed three black-and-white photographs taken in August 1955, when she and Helen Outerbridge rode from the cabin at Langley Lake to the Cornwall fire lookout. A photograph by Dye of the lookout as it appeared in 1955 shows that the structure was added to over the years, taking it to two storeys rather than one, although the original structure can still be seen today.

“Those were the days!” wrote Dye.

Kibble says that Aug. 17 was a “great day”, and thanks everyone who came out to help from the bottom of his heart.

“We got so much accomplished!”

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Close-up of Cornwall lookout in 2019. See next photo for a comparison with 1955. Photo: Wes Kibble

Cornwall fire lookout in 1955, showing the original one-storey building that today forms the lookout’s base. Photo: Helen Dye

Scraping paint off the exterior of the top of the lookout. Photo: Wes Kibble

New stairs at the Cornwall fire lookout. Photo: Wes Kibble

The basement of the Cornwall fire lookout. Photo: Wes Kibble.

Helen Outerbridge at Cornwall fire lookout in 1955. Photo: Helen Dye

Helen Dye’s family’s cabin at Langley (Hammond) Lake ikn 1955. The lake, along Hat Creek Road west of Highway 1, has been dry for many years. Photo: Helen Dye

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