May 21, 2020
TITLE: MORE HIKING THROUGH HISTORY: This week we’re focusing on another historical hike to celebrate our recent return to nature. Strawberry Peak Fire Lookout was built in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC was a work relief program that gave millions of young men employment on environmental projects during the Great Depression. Stationed in camps across the mountain, the corps achieved great success in fire suppression. In the 1920’s 913,700 acres burned in the Southern California national forests. With the CCC laying truck trails, building fire breaks and thinning trees, in the 1930’s the acres burned was reduced to 395,700. United States Forester E.A. Sherman proclaimed that disastrous fires would soon be a thing of the past and that “within five years such fires will be unthinkable and impossible.” The unthinkable happened in November 1938, however, with the Arrowhead Fire. Lasting four days, it burned 11,000 acres including the famed Arrowhead Springs Hotel. The original lookout tower was located in Grass Valley. It was 80 feet high and was built from wood, reinforced with rails donated by the AT&SF Railroad. It succumbed to a heavy snow load and a lightning strike in 1922. The relocated tower was built in 1933, is 30 feet high and made from metal. The May 20, 1933 San Bernardino Daily Sun has a small article which refers to the new tower having better visibility and stating, “construction began yesterday and it is estimated that work will be completed within a week.” This week’s image shows the tower in 1938, with a worker or volunteer standing duty. Directions for the moderately difficult 2.5 mile round trip hike can be found at https://modernhiker.com/hike/strawberry-peak-lookout/. As an easy alternative, from Rimforest drive up Bear Springs Road for about two miles and follow the signs to the tower. The energy you save will be put to good use climbing 30 feet of steps to enjoy the stunning vistas! Open 9-5 seven days a week May through Labor Day or later. Check availability via https://www.fs.usda.gov/. By Ken Brafman, Image from ROWHS Collection.