Today's New York Times has a feature article on Michael Gates who is a contract fire watcher on Saddleback Mountain in the Tahoe National Forest in California. Gates lives for five months of the year in a lookout shack atop the nearly 7,000 foot mountain. The article has some amazing pictures of life in the shack and views around the mountain.
Gates also has his own photo gallery with some amazing shots, many from the watchtower.
There are fewer and fewer manned lookouts (only 800 left) around as the US Forest Service and State Forest Services go to modern technologies. It takes a special person to endure living there. But I'm sure there are advantages to having a pair of human eyes watching the skyline for fires.
Many forest technology students want to work fighting fires. Not so many would want to work in a fire tower I think.