Czar Tower, through the years

Czar Tower is nearly 85 years old, but remains an active fire lookout tower used by Mark Twain National Forest. The tower and associated buildings were constructed in the 1930s to support firefighting efforts in the Crawford, Iron, and Washington counties area. Czar Tower, 1934

With the recent rains and green-up of the forest, spring fire season is just about over for the Potosi-Fredericktown Ranger District.

Even so, I thought it would be interesting to feature one of Mark Twain National Forest’s most interesting wildland firefighting tools – the fire lookout tower.

Construction of fire lookout towers on ridges and high points began as early as the late-1920s in Missouri. Observers would be stationed in the lookout tower and would scan the horizon for smoke.

The observer would record the direction and distance of the smoke and call this information into the fire dispatcher.

Other tower lookouts would call in their distance and bearing estimates to the dispatcher, who would then plot the location of the fire and send out a call to the firefighters.

Czar Tower is located at the intersection of Highways C, V, and Y in Crawford County. It is a 100-foot tower made by the Chicago-based Aermotor Company and built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) about 1934.  

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