This year marks the 100th anniversary of the activation of Eagle Pass Fire Lookout, a Dominion built structure that was used for wildfire detection services for both the federal and provincial governments until about 1932.
It is located west of Revelstoke and was one of a number of Dominion Fire Lookouts built to protect the ‘Railway Belt’, a 20 mile wide strip of forest either side of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Later this summer, three former BCFS staffers, Jim Wright, Peter Rennie and Kevin Lavelle will hike up to the lookout and celebrate the centennial with a tribute to those hardy souls who built the trail and manned the lookout all those years ago.
|Eagle Pass Mountain Lookout in 1976. (Photo courtesy of Trails to the Shuswap, 2nd Edition, Barz, Crowley, Crowley and Wharton, 1976)|
Jim Wright conducted research into the history of the lookout and writes, “Work on the lookout, located on top of a prominent 7,700 foot (2,351 m) peak overlooking the Eagle River valley, began in 1920. John ‘Jack’ Mizon the first fire ranger for the valley, built the 13 mile (21 km) long pack horse trail up the Crazy Creek valley from the Taft railway station and supervised construction of the lookout, telephone line, and a log cache cabin halfway along the trail. His 19-year-old son Christopher, beginning a long career as assistant forest ranger with both Dominion and BC Forest Branches that lasted until 1956, packed supplies and materials up the trail. The federal government paid him $1.10 per day for his horse, plus 10 cents for shoeing it. Jack Aubrey of Malakwa was the first lookout man. The abandoned building slowly deteriorated, losing its roof some time prior to 1975.”
Today the hike up to the lookout has become increasingly popular since it was designated an official trail by Recreation Sites and Trails BC several years ago. A controversial new cabin was built on top of the original stone and mortar base in 2016. Since then, a multi stakeholder committee has been assigned the task of sorting out what to do with the structure that will ensure a safe, properly constructed and maintained lookout that considers Indigenous peoples and other user groups.
Happy anniversary Eagle Pass Mountain Lookout!
Kevin Lavelle has been working for the BC Forest Service in Revelstoke since 1981. He organizes group trips every year to fire lookouts and is passionate about learning their history.