A New Century for Spyglass Lookout
Late in 2010 Lutherhaven Ministries initiated a unique partnership between our own Idaho Servant Adventures, the US Forest Service and the national Forest Fire Lookout Association to restore Spyglass Lookout near Shoshone Base Camp. The one-of-a-kind project was recognized in 2011 by the Inland Northwest Community Foundation with a $20,000 Community Strategies Grant.
In April, 2012 the Alpine Education Foundation of Seattle contributed an additional $5,000 toward the preservation. And in 2013 another $16,000 was added to the project from the US Forest Service Heritage Stewardship Enhancement Program, a grant that also comes with a national historic preservation team!
The funding and expertise will stabilize and restore Spyglass to its original specifications using original blueprints, authentic materials, and Idaho Servant Adventures teens and other volunteers as modern-day artisans.
100 YearsIn 2011 Spyglass Lookout celebrated its centennial as a U.S. Forest Service lookout point: 1911 to 2011. The last true lookout "tower" in the region, Spyglass was being used as a lookout patrol point just a year after the famous 1910 fire, and the first permanent structure, a log cabin, was built there in 1922.
Thanks to the new Lutherhaven + Forest Service + Lookout Association collaboration, Spyglass was added to the national historic register in 2010.
Pictured here is a recently discovered photo of Spyglass Lookout Ernest Shootze, c. 1932. Shootze was stationed at Spyglass in the 1920's and '30's. The picture was discovered by Shootze's grandson and sent to Lutherhaven.
Idaho Servant Adventures
Idaho Servant Adventures brings hundreds of teens from around the nation to Shoshone and Kootenai Counties for simple, significant projects for people in need: fixing a porch, repairing a roof, painting a house, cleaning a garage, leading summer recreational programs for underserved kids. In the past five summers, Idaho Servant Adventure teens have contributed more than 27,000 hours of volunteer labor in Idaho's Silver Valley, on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation, and with kids with disabilities in Coeur d'Alene.
On their "To Do List": the restoration of Spyglass.
Lutherhaven took the lead in initiating the project and writing the grants to the Inland Northwest Community Foundation and Alpine Education Foundation, both which have a great history with the camp. The Inland Northwest Community Foundation, for instance, provided a major $50,000 grant to purchase Shoshone Camp in 2009. The Alpine Education Foundation has funded many of our outdoor education initiatives for school children.
Idaho Servant Adventures will provide significant manual labor for the Spyglass endeavor; the Forest Service will provide professional expertise through their team of historic renovators and on-site personnel; and the Lookout Association will provide national backing, added funding, salvaged parts from other historic lookouts used to replace missing elements at Spyglass, and more volunteer labor. The project will extend over the next several summers.
Lookouts like Spyglass are disappearing. In the 1930's and '40's there were 98 lookouts on the Coeur d'Alene Ranger District. In fact, there were more lookouts in Idaho than any other state in the country. The map here shows the concentration of fire lookouts in north Idaho at their "peak" in the 1930's.
The towers had romantic names like Elk Ridge, Jackknife Peak, Packsaddle Mountain and Burnt Cabin Knob. One by north Idaho lookouts were abandoned and destroyed. Today just two of the original hundred remain on the Coeur d'Alene District: Little Guard, a fully restored national historic site directly above our Shoshone Base Camp that's part of the National Lookout Recreational Rental Program, and Spyglass Lookout atop 5300-foot Spyglass Peak, about 30 road miles from Shoshone Camp.
Spyglass is a true lookout "tower" in the old-fashion sense of the word, sitting atop a 53-foot timber tower. The building was factory built and shipped to the mountaintop for assembly in 1950. The site also includes the lookout residence, a "ground cab" that was the former 1930's McDonald Peak Lookout, skidded to Spyglass in 1940. Spyglass was last staffed in 1978. Since then the facility has witnessed considerable deterioration from weather and vandalism.
The historic restoration is a fantastic project for Idaho Servant Adventure participants because it gives kids from around the nation a truly spectacular "mountaintop experience," teaching the importance of servant leadership, giving back to the community, caring for our natural world, working together, and serving for something bigger than themselves.
Idaho Servant Adventurers played a key role in moving and restoring the historic Frank McPherson Homestead at Shoshone that serves as the signature building of Lutherhaven's new Shoshone Creek Ranch.
When fully restored, Spyglass Lookout will hopefully be open to the public for overnight stays through the National Lookout Recreational Rental Program. Lutherhaven Ministries and Idaho Servant Adventures will ensure the ongoing care of Spyglass as Lookout Stewards.
Special thanks to the Inland Northwest Community Foundation, Alpine Education Foundation, and Forest Service Heritage Stewardship Enhancement Fund for their support and trust! Their incredibly generous grants totaling more than $40,000 will help stabilize and restore Spyglass to its original specifications and ensure the tower stands tall for the next generation of recreational users enjoying the beauty of God's creation!