Cedar Tree Tower

Ted Lappin

Chapin Mesa Lookout

Mesa Verde National Park

Elevation: 7100+

Status: Standing

Year Built: 1944-45

Structure Type: 42 ft, 8" mast with 6' x 6' cab

Google Map

See a detailed map. (Tip: Click the map to enlarge it.)

Used on an as-needed basis by the Mesa Verde National Park Fire Service when a smoke has been reported, Chapin Mesa still has a firefinder on top. Its former name, "Cedar Tree," refers more accurately to a Mesa Verde ruin by the same name.

According to Allen Farnsworth, Fire Management Officer, Mesa Verde NP and Four Corners Park Group: "This tower is a unique design. The lookout platform sits on two joints of surplus 8 - inch, 28 pound well casing used as a mast. A safety ladder is welded to the side of the mast. The safety ladder has a ratcheted pole that a safety belt can be attached to as the lookout climbs or decends the tower. The lookout has a roof that came off an old discarded road maintainer cab top. Other than the roof, the tower is open to the elements. The floor is wooden with metal guard rails around the Osborne firefinder. Although there are guide wires and lightning rods, this tower would be unsafe during a lightning storm. The tower is 42 feet tall. The floor space in the tower is 6' x 6' ".

From the Annual Forestry Report, Mesa Verde NP, Colorado, 1944: "A new lookout tower was erected on the crest of the divide near the ball diamond just off the Cedar Tree Tower Road. This permanent tower now largely completed provides the unobstructed coverage desired adjacent park headquarters and will replace both the remote Twin Trees and the [well derrick that was used as a tower]. It will expedite location and arrival on all fires within the park because of its nearness to headquarters."

From the Annual Forestry Report, Mesa Verde NP, Colorado, 1945: "The Osborne Fire Finder was oriented with the one at Park Point by an exchange of mirror flashes."

Visit the National Historic Lookout entry for Chapin Mesa.

Chapin Mesa ladder

Allen Farnsworth, 2007

Safety ladder on tower

Chapin Mesa cab

Allen Farnsworth, 2007

Safety belt

Chapin Mesa from Cedar Tree Tower

Allen Farnsworth, 1/2010

Chapin Mesa lookout tower from Cedar Tree Tower