Header image by Devon Barker
Hahns Peak Lookout
Project Status: Complete!
Project Overview and Vision
Sitting at 10,839 feet on the mountain from which the town of Hahns Peak takes its name, the Hahns Peak Lookout was constructed by the Forest Service between 1908 – 1912, after the gold and silver mines had already busted. The structure was one of the first officially funded lookouts constructed in Colorado and was part of a network of fire lookouts that worked together to precisely locate wildfires in the area. The lookout is representative of the early conservation movement, and is a symbol for fire management strategies in the early years of the Forest Service, as well as the role of the Forest Service and lookouts during World War II.
The site’s gradual decommissioning during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s is indicative of changing technologies in fire management. Architecturally the site represents the Forest Service’s policy of local Forest Rangers constructing their own administrative facilities based on personal preferences and using locally available tools and materials.
Since its decommissioning, the lookout’s condition had deteriorated over time due to its exposure at high elevation, lack of resources for maintenance, and vandalism. In 2014, Colorado Preservation Inc. listed the Hahns Peak Lookout as one of Colorado’s Most Endangered Places.
From 2014 – 2017 Historic Routt County partnered with the USDA Forest Service, HistoriCorps, and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps to restore the lookout and install modern lightning protection. The steep hike, variable weather, and short seasons made this project logistically challenging – but the hard work has paid off!
Community engagement was always at the heart of this project. We are deeply grateful to the volunteer crews from HistoriCorps, Passport in Time, Team Rubicon, and the Forest Fire Lookout Association, as well as the young adults of RMYC’s Historic Preservation Corps, who overcame the extreme weather and logistical challenges of historic preservation at nearly 11,000 feet above sea level!
With restoration work complete, hikers and backcountry skiers can enjoy the expansive views of Northwest Colorado from the lookout’s restored cab, while learning about the history of fire lookouts in the American West.
Follow the links to explore the history of the site and how we accomplished the restoration project!