(Editor’s note: This is the fourth part in a series about fire towers in Missouri.)
Sidney Buchman once observed that, “If there were no mystery left to explore life would get rather dull, wouldn’t it?”
It seems that in the world of Missouri Forest Lookout Towers, there is an effort to make life interesting.
Over fifty years of “towering” I have come across many mysteries with only some of them solved. They seem to mostly fall into three patterns: paper trails/word of mouth, road maps, and topography maps.
PAPER TRAILS/WORD OF MOUTH
In reading Conservation Commission papers, MDC papers, USFS papers, and printed works, information and names pop up now and then that don’t seem to fit.
Now, it must be noted up front that the use of the word “lookout” can be varied. Although you might automatically add “tower,” that may or may not be true.
There are “lookouts” at times on poles, in trees, on water towers and on the top of buildings. So, when you see in a paper the King’s Sink Lookout… was that a tower or something else?
Now, there is a King’s Sink feature in Phelps County but my topography map scanning has produced no lookout. The same article mentions a Tribune Lookout located somewhere on the present location of Fort Leonard Wood.
The Point Tower was moved, on paper, to Strawstack Point above the Big Piney on the Pulaski/Phelps County line but again I can find no topography evidence.
Some of these “paper trails” can be explained in two ways. First, in the case of the Wilderness/Lampe or Joplin/Redings Mill towers, the official name was not the one often used locally and over time, the local name worked its way into common usage.
I have also come to the conclusion that the tower north of Falcon was also referred to as the Brownfield Tower now and then. One paper references a Goose Creek Tower, maybe Phillipsburg? I have a post card labeled “Arcadia Valley”/USFS.
Second, World War II caused many “towers on paper” to vanish due to steel shortages.
One of my retired MDC friends, Max Gorman, believes a wooden C.C.C. tower stood east of Jerktail Mountain in Shannon County. We found a survey marker but the tower footings are still hiding from us.