Scenic Overlooks

Metadata Updated: November 12, 2020

WITHIN the compass of this heading is included a wide range of structures, the common denominator of all being the provision of means for negotiating a view. Lookouts may eventuate from the practical requirement of forest fire detection, or from determination on the part of designing technician or wilful band of park users, hyper-view conscious, for something bigger and better and more distant in views than Nature unaided could achieve.Between the grimly functional lookout of the ranger and the utmost in aesthetic structural elevation contrived by the view-for-view's-sakers is greater distance than any park vista will ever provide. When it has been essayed to superimpose the too conscious aspirations of the aesthetic, on the structurally sufficient skeleton of the fire detection tower, the literally "crowning" error in park development has been committed. Probably a frank rendering of either extreme, free of gesture toward the other, is better than any hybrid produced by crossing the two irreconcilables.Examination of existing timber-framed trestle-type lookout towers for aesthetic values will prove disheartening. In general, the oil derrick as their inspirational source is painfully undisguised. This conclusion cannot be held in disparagement of the designers, if it be honestly admitted that they have valiantly sought to solve the unsolvable. There is such admirable show of there-is-no-such-word-as-can't in every new attempt! It seems heartless to venture a restraining word, but the accumulation in our parks of harrowing skeletons commemorative of past ill-advised best intentions in this direction admits no choice of action.There are other than purely aesthetic reasons for discouraging the building of high wooden structures for use as observation towers. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to fabricate a timber-braced structure with bolted or spiked joints that will hold up under the attack of the elements for any considerable length of time without constant maintenance. Immediately after construction the wood members shrink and the joints loosen. Decay will proceed rapidly at the joints where water seeps in between the members and finally into the bolt and spike holes. The structure is weakened at its most vulnerable point. With the slightest loosening of the joints the tremendous wind pressures cause movements which increase the stresses in the entire structure. The safety of the people using the towers cannot be assured, when it depends entirely on inspection and maintenance that cannot be guaranteed into the future.Because the wood-framed lookout tower is so utterly unappealing, and so potentially a hazard, it is strange that but few stone towers have been built. The stone lookout is not foredoomed to failure, aesthetic and structural, as is the open wood tower, but on the contrary offers opportunity for picturesqueness, satisfying design and great permanence. Particularly does it appear that the possibilities for a stone tower of modest height springing from a rock-crowned summit have not been widely sensed, certainly not widely embraced.It is held by many that the birth rate for lookout towers in parks is currently too high, and that some measure of control should be instituted. It can be argued that the perching of a lookout on the high elevation of a park area is disfiguring to the natural sky line, that it is sometimes better to remove the trees that crown the high summit, and are the very obstructions to view that make necessary the building of a structural lookout. The bald crown of the eminence is held to be a lesser, certainly no greater, blemish than the structural tower rearing itself above trees. There are undoubtedly locations where this solution would be an acceptable alternative to a lookout tower. But it can hardly be urged for universal application. Rather should it be given thoughtful consideration as a possibility, to be weighed in the light of consideration of characteristics of hill or mountain t

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Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: No license information was provided. If this work was prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties it is considered a U.S. Government Work.

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Metadata Created Date November 12, 2020
Metadata Updated Date November 12, 2020

Metadata Source

Harvested from DOI Open Data

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date November 12, 2020
Metadata Updated Date November 12, 2020
Publisher National Park Service
Unique Identifier Unknown
Identifier NPS_DataStore_2225135
Data First Published 2015-11-21
Data Last Modified 2015-11-21
Category Geospatial Dataset
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code 010:24
Metadata Context
Metadata Catalog ID D:\IRMA\DataStore\Application\OpenData\v1.1\NPS-DataStore.json
Schema Version
Catalog Describedby
Data Quality True
Homepage URL
Program Code 010:118, 010:119
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Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash e5f60ff69ac69f54a61dd99298cebb89734bb874
Source Schema Version 1.1
Spatial -84.0139,35.42586,-83.0425,35.84241
Temporal 2020-01-11/2020-01-11

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