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Old Trail Connects Wagner Butte to Ashland Watershed

Using modern technology, the Ashland Woodlands and Trails Association has uncovered one of the oldest trails in the Ashland Watershed.

Association members noticed a 1953 map showed a trail between Wagner Butte and Forest Service Road 2060.  Attempting to find the trail on foot, they uncovered promising signs of old red blazes on trees and rusted buckets in the grass.  But the trail was not navigable and the group kept getting lost.  In an effort to find the trail’s exact location, they overlaid the 1953 map with Google Earth and determined GPS coordinates.  Soon, they found more red blazes and uncovered what once was the Wagner Butte fire lookout service trail.  
The U.S. Forest Service built the Wagner Butte fire lookout in 1923, which operated until 1964.  The Forest Service destroyed the building in 1971 after airplanes took over most fire surveillance.  Hikers can still see the chunks of the lookout’s original foundation on the summit of 7,140-foot Wagner Butte. 
With Forest Service approval, volunteers started rehabilitation work on the trail in 2008 and 2009.  Today, Wagner Butte is accessible from the Ashland Watershed via the reestablished Wagner Glade Trail. 

Sources: Heycke, Torsten. "Wagner Glade Gap Trail." Ashland Woodlands and Trails Association Newsletter Spring (2009). Web. 25 July 2014. "Wagner Butte Fire Lookout Abandoned in the mid-'60s." Mail Tribune 18 Jan. 2014. 

Amy Couture has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Oregon, a master’s in teacher education from Eastern Oregon University, and a master’s in history from Minnesota State University, Mankato.  A former teacher and cross-country coach, she is the author of 14 historical vignettes in the book, Astorians: Eccentric and Extraordinary.