Many hands make light work at Cornwall fire lookout work bee

Volunteers at Cornwall Fire Lookout on Sept. 11. (Photo credit: Travis Ketcheson)Volunteers at Cornwall Fire Lookout on Sept. 11. (Photo credit: Travis Ketcheson)
Volunteers from the 4 Wheel Drive Association of BC and the Ashcroft/Cache Creek area get ready to start work on the Cornwall Fire Lookout on Sept. 11. (Photo credit: Travis Ketcheson)Volunteers from the 4 Wheel Drive Association of BC and the Ashcroft/Cache Creek area get ready to start work on the Cornwall Fire Lookout on Sept. 11. (Photo credit: Travis Ketcheson)
The drive up to Cornwall Lookout on Sept. 11. (Photo credit: Travis Ketcheson)The drive up to Cornwall Lookout on Sept. 11. (Photo credit: Travis Ketcheson)
The view on the way up to Cornwall Lookout on Sept. 11. (Photo credit: Travis Ketcheson)The view on the way up to Cornwall Lookout on Sept. 11. (Photo credit: Travis Ketcheson)

Thanks to a group of volunteers from the Four Wheel Drive Association of BC and Ashcroft/Cache Creek, the historic fire lookout atop Cornwall Mountain west of Ashcroft has undergone some much-needed repairs and a paint job.

The Association took over maintenance of the lookout in 2016, following the announcement in the Journal in 2015 that BC Parks planned to dismantle the lookout unless an organization or group of volunteers interested in maintaining the structure and holding liability for it stepped forward. The announcement followed the dismantling, over the years, of several other lookouts around B.C. which were no longer being used and could not be managed by the Fire Protection Service.

Wes Kibble, the Four Wheel Drive Association’s regional director for Thompson-Nicola, organized a work bee for Sept. 11 and put out a call for volunteers.

“A big thank you to everyone who came out to help at the Cornwall Fire Lookout maintenance day!” he said on Facebook. “We had members from as far away as Enderby and Vancouver, as well as some Ashcroft locals who are not members but wanted to help out because it is a historic piece in their backyard.

“We also had a visit from the BC Parks Senior Ranger and he was super impressed with the amount of people and the amount of work being done. I had a good on-site meeting with him in regards to future plans.

“Everyone put in a great effort: new boards were put up on the front, two new 4×4 support posts were put in, one window was replaced, and a crew scraped and painted the interior roof and walls, among other smaller projects.

“Once again, thanks to those that came out. BC Parks, the 4WDABC and the residents of Ashcroft and Cache Creek appreciate all the hard work.”

Historical records indicate that there has been a fire lookout on Cornwall Mountain since at least the 1890s, when the lookout was maintained on an informal basis. The current lookout tower is a standard cottage-roof cabin on top of a wooden tower. The base of the tower provided living accommodations for the person manning it, while the cabin—surrounded by a catwalk—was used for fire-spotting, with continuous windows on all four sides maximizing the surveillance capacity of a lone observer. It’s one of two predominant fire lookout formats constructed by the BC Forest Services between the 1920s and the late 1950s.

The Cornwall fire lookout — which sits at an elevation of 6,600 feet — was regularly manned each summer until the early 1990s, after which it was only used if there was a fire risk in the area. By 1999 it was the only active forest service lookout tower in the Kamloops fire district, and the last time it was used was during the 2003 wildfire in the Cornwall Hills.

Fire lookout towers are popular not only with 4X4 enthusiasts, but with hikers, geocachers, snowmobilers, and history buffs, among others. Information about lookout locations, as well as lots of pictures of the lookouts and the views from them, can be found on the BC Forest Fire Lookouts Facebook page.



editorial@accjournal.ca

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