The old Fowler lookout tower received one reprieve from destruction 17 years ago when it was moved to the Calaveras County Fairgrounds, but the building finally has run out of time.
Sitting about 50 yards uphill from the fairground´s main entrance, the three-story tower was originally built in 1936 and initially known as Bear Mountain Lookout, according to an article in the May 20, 1987, edition of the Calaveras Enterprise.
The building was renamed Fowler Peak Lookout in 1959 in honor of Oliver E. Fowler, a Stanislaus National Forest District Ranger who became one of the California Department of Forestry´s first district rangers in 1919.
When the CDF decided to replace the building with a more modern facility in 1987, the lookout was moved to the fairgrounds.
But now the lookout has fallen into disrepair, and has been cited two years in a row by the state Department of Health and Human Services as being unsafe, according to fair Marketing Director Laurie Giannini. “We just can no longer afford the liability,” Giannini said.
Inmate crews from the Vallecito Conservation Camp are scheduled to begin razing the building Feb. 17. The small building next to the tower also will fall.
That structure has been home to the California Highway Patrol´s display. Giannini said the CHP will be in the same spot in some type of temporary housing for this year´s fair run May 13-16.
Fair officials have tried to find grants or some other means to raise money to renovate the structure, Giannini said, but without luck.
The lookout does not qualify for any historical designation, Giannini said, because it has been moved from its original location. “Everybody has a little bit of sentimental attachment to it, but you eventually have to do what´s in the best interests of the fair,” she added.
One of those who has been trying to find a way to save the structure is Arnold resident Donna Broglio.
She and her husband Ron are developing property in Angels Camp and considered moving it there, but it might have to be re-located several times as the property is developed. “He´s hoping to find a home for it,” Donna Broglio said.
A contractor she had look at the tower determined it could be moved in two sections n top and bottom n but would cost as much as it would to build a new one. Broglio is hoping someone will step forward with a plan. “It´s such a neat old lookout,” Broglio said. “I just hate to see old things torn down.”
Calaveras Enterprise story by Craig Koscho. For more Calaveras news, click: calaverasenterprise.com