GeekDad: Build Your Own (Mini) Fire Lookout Tower

Fire lookout Tower Model

I’m a huge fan of fire lookout towers, both real and imagined. Visiting a fire tower is an exercise in solitude, and the experience always offers the chance for quiet moments of introspection. I find standing inside a 14-foot by 14-foot building that offers sweeping 360° views of the entire forest below it for miles in any direction to be very relaxing.

My favorite lookout tower (probably because it’s the first I ever visited) is the one at Vetter Mountain in Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains. This is where I gained an appreciation of the Osborne Fire Finder, a cool gadget used to pinpoint rising smoke and determine the geographic location of an active forest fire.

I’ve visited the tower at Black Mountain near Idlywild, California a few times (although I’ve never stayed there), and I was fortunate enough to lead a multi-family hike all the way up to the former Needles Fire Lookout in the Sequoia National Forest the weekend before it burned down.

Needles Fire Lookout Tower
One of the last photos of the Needles Lookout Tower (from the author’s collection).

My appreciation of lookout towers extends to my home-bound leisure time pursuits as well. I thoroughly enjoyed Firewatch, Campo Santo’s fire lookout tower-themed video game (even if it’s less about fire lookout towers and more about the human condition). There are even a few towers to explore in Days Gone, a post-apocalyptic zombie game I recently played the heck out of.

Two Forks Fire Lookout Tower
The Two Forks Tower in Firewatch. Image: Campo Santo.

Fire Lookout Tower Model Kit

All this love for these iconic buildings means I’m very keen on the Fire Lookout Tower Model Kit from HouhaDesigns. The kit comes flat-packed with all its pieces attached to a series of sheet-mounted, laser-cut mat boards.

The Kit
What’s in the box. Image: HouhaDesigns.

Once assembled, this miniature tower stands 15 inches tall and the building is 6 inches square. The completed model really looks like a tiny version of a fire lookout tower you’d find somewhere in the wilderness. The attention to detail is remarkable—if you look closely, you can see there’s an Osbourne Fire Finder inside the building.

The Detail
A look inside. Image: HouhaDesigns.

If you’re model-inclined, the kit is relatively easy to build—all you need is a tube of Elmer’s glue, which one of your kids probably has stashed in a craft box somewhere in your house.

The Fire Lookout Tower Model Kit is available on Etsy from HouhaDesigns. It sells for $65 and has a 4.9-star rating with more than 1,200 reviews. HouhaDesigns also sells many other excellent 3D model kits with an outdoorsy theme, so if you enjoy model building and outdoor pursuits, then there’s likely something here that will appeal to you.

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