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Volunteers Restore Wildhorse Lookout Near Gold Beach, Ore.

For the second time, volunteers are rebuilding a fire lookout station used for years to scan the Rogue-Illinois watershed forests northeast of Gold Beach, Ore.

Winter storms in 2007-2008 trashed the Wildhorse Lookout cabin, breaking 320 square feet of glass and damaging the 40-foot tower.  The Civilian Conservation Corps had constructed the original lookout in 1934.  Winter storms crushed it in 1947, and it was rebuilt. 

The U.S. Forest Service has used the site since the 1920s as a fire lookout.  It served as an Aerial Warning Service outpost in 1942, searching the skies for planes amid fears of a Japanese invasion of the American mainland. 

Volunteers from the Sand Mountain Society are handling the current restoration.  The Society sends small groups of workers around the Pacific Northwest to stabilize and rehabilitate historic structures, including lookouts.  So far the Wildhorse restoration has been limited to salvaging the collapsed cabin and repairing the tower and subfloor.  Cabin boards are being stripped, sanded and painted for reassembly. 

The Society anticipates that upon completion in a couple of years the lookout may be added to the Forest Service’s Recreation Cabin Rental Program.


Sources: Hoffman, Hannah. Curry County Reporter 20 Aug. 2008 [Gold Beach, Oregon].  "Wildhorse Lookout." SMS. Sand Mountain Society, Web. 3 Apr. 2014. Hunter, Kim. Partnership Coordinator, Gold Beach Ranger Station, USFS. Telephone interview and e-mail message. 6 Mar. 2014.             

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Shirley Nelson moved to Port Orford on Oregon's South Coast, after having lived 28 years in Medford.  A writer since childhood, she became an elementary school teacher.  As an interested observer of her new environment, Shirley learned the history of Curry and Coos counties. She published a book in 2005 about Coos and Curry counties titled What Happened Here?.  Nelson has published articles and poetry in several magazines, including Oregon Coast.