The OES visited Shawnee Lookout Tower on April 27, 2002, and made a return trip on July 19, 2003. Deep in the Wayne National Forest, Shawnee Lookout Tower was built to protect the developing forest from wildfire. The Shawnee Tower was one of four lookout towers built in the area during the 1930s. This particular tower was built in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). It is the only one of the four towers that remain standing in its original location. One other tower, Snake Ridge Lookout Tower, still exists but it was dismantled in the 1970s and rebuilt on Hocking College’s campus. It was relocated to the park’s headquarters along US Route 33 in 2007. Shawnee Lookout Tower was manned and used for fire detection until sometime in the 1970s. The OES founder’s uncle once made a movie there during his high school years in the mid-1970s, so the tower must have been abandoned by the early 1970s.
The 100-foot tall Shawnee Lookout Tower was constructed of steel and had wooden steps that led to the cabin. There was originally a cabin, restroom and garage at the site at ground level, but they have all since been demolished or burned down. Shawnee Tower was one of the first sites in the area to have telephone service, installed at the ground cabin in 1935. By 1989, Shawnee Lookout Tower had fallen into disrepair as it had been nearly fifteen years since it was last manned. The tower’s structure was sound, despite having stood for fifty years, so the tower was restored and opened to the public. Anyone could climb to the top of the tower and the view from there was breathtaking. Even on a rainy day, we could see for miles. It was nice to see the once-neglected tower restored for everyone to enjoy. However, Shawnee Lookout Tower suffered wind damage in 2004 and was closed. The closing was supposed to be temporary, but as of 2015, it had not reopened. We spoke with park officials who stated there were no current plans to reopen the tower for public use.
Thank goes to Shannon and Rodney for showing us the tower’s location.
Location Information: Public Park
Shawnee Lookout Tower is located off Sand Run-New Straitsville Road near New Straitsville; Hocking County.