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Shuteye Peak Fire Lookout

Located in the United States Forest Service's,

Sierra National Forest, Minerets Ranger District

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Photo, Looking Northwest at the Tower

Shuteye Peak's GPS location is 37.2057°N, 119.25417°W

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Photo, Picture of Lookout Don Wisseman Photo, Picture of Business Card

Photo, Picture of Lookout Don Wisseman

Don Wisseman, of North Fork California and most recently the voice of Shuteye Lookout, retired after 20 years of service as a fire lookout for both The State of California and The Sierra National Forest at the end of fire season in 2007.

      Shuteye Lookout was established and put into service by the U.S. Forest Service in 1907. During the following years Shuteye Lookout has had various types of different structures for the lookout until 1957 when the current tower was constructed and put into service. The tower is located at an elevation of 8,358 feet, in Eastern Madera County and has a map location of Township 7 South, Range 23 East, Section 2 on the Sierra National Forest Map.

      Shuteye Peak Lookout was originally constructed in 1907 as a compass lookout and was hiked to each day by the lookout. In 1908 or 1909 it was rebuilt as a crude lumber cabin. In 1910 a more perminent 12' x 12' wood cabin similar to the 4A design was erected. In 1915 the 4A type lookout was constructed and improved. In 1935 it was again remodeled and the windows were improved. In 1957 it was rebuilt to the current configuration pictured above. The CL-100 type tower is a 14 x 14 foot steel cab with a flat roof standing on a 10 x 10 foot concrete block base.

      Shuteye Lookout is currently in service and is staffed by USFS employee Don Wisseman, until he retired at the end of the 2007 fire season. The lookout is accessable to four wheel drive vehicles and is an excellent beginners days drive for four wheel drive vehicles, four wheel drive is required to reach the tower. The view is quite spectacular on a clear day or night from the lookout tower located in Eastern Madera County.


A Legend Retires in 2007, by Paul Waddell

      Local North Fork resident, Don Wisseman, began his long and distinguished career with the U.S. Forest Service back in 1962, working over the years as a tanker truck operator and fire prevention patrol before becoming a fire lookout in 1980. Aside from short stints at Goat Mountain, Musick Mountain and Miami Mountain Lookouts (all located on the Sierra), Don spent the majority of his career on Shuteye, providing a stable fixture up there on the mountain not only for the many firefighters he helped guide into lightning strikes, but as well to the hundreds of visitors that came to see Don, year after year, to bring him food in exchange for a story, or a song or two on his fiddle.

      Just like Don, Shuteye has a long and storied history as the oldest Lookout on the Sierra. Since 1911, forest workers have used this 8300 foot high peak to watch over the town of North Fork, and out into the back areas of the Sierras. Cemented into a large rock near the lookout is an urn holding the ashes of Sam McFarland, one of the early Shuteye lookouts. Nearby are several other plaques dedicated to former Forest Service employees. Someday there will be another plaque there, for Don, who grew to love that old lookout over the years, his home away from home.

      It was my pleasure, the last few years to supervise Don, which basically meant leaving him alone to do his job and call in fires across a landscape which he knew like the back of his hand. Of the 40 or so employees I've supervised over the years, Don was easily the most low maintenance and easy going I've had the opportunity to work with. Never once did I hear him sayan unkind word about anybody. And I can't remember him ever having a bad day. Of course, when Don had some health problems last year, and it became apparent that he wouldn't be able to return to Shuteye, he was obviously disappointed. Nonetheless, he took it all in stride, and never let this disappointment get him down.

      Don also loved the critters of the mountain, particularly a gaggle of chipmunks he fed peanut butter. Don also told me a story about an injured red tailed hawk he had nursed back to health down at his home in North Fork , and who later flew up to Shuteye to thank him.

      Shuteye--as anyone knows who has driven the grueling last three miles up to the tower--is a rough and rocky 4 wheel drive road, that has snapped more than a few axels over the years, and bounced Don around like a Raggedy Ann doll in the cab of my truck over the twenty or so trips I shuttled him up and down from there. More often than not, on the trip down, there would be some group on the way up to see him and who, of course, were mightily disappointed that they would miss Don this go around, but promised to be back up again sometime soon to pay their respects, and bring him cake or cookies to hear him play some fiddle.

      Unfortunately, Don won't have a chance to return and play a tune for those folks who missed him their last trip up. Just the same, I'm sure if they listen close enough to the breeze blowing by across the top of the mountain, they can hear Don's fiddle and voice and stories forever.

FFLA (Forest Fire Lookout Association) Reports for the year:


      Shuteye Lookout Renovations: A complete review of current renovation requirements will be conducted in FY2013 prior to Fire Season. This may include replacement of existing water tank, installation of propane heater system and safety issues internal to the cab. A microwave internet bridge will be installed between Shuteye Lookout and Miami Lookout for internet service and is in planning and purchase of products phase. Microwave internet service may also be provided from Shuteye Lookout to Mount Tom Lookout in FY2013/FY2014. This is privately funded. A weather station was also installed during FY2012.

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The lookout overlooks both State and Federal lands included below with reduced resolution photos and description:
Click on a picture to view the full high resolution image!

Photo, Looking North from the Tower Photo, Looking Northeast from the Tower

This is a view of the Sierra National Forest and Mammoth Mountain area.

Photo, Looking East Northeast from the Tower Photo, Looking East from the Tower

This is a view of the San Jouquin River Canyon looking towards the Sierra National Forest.

Photo, Looking East Southeast from the Tower Photo, Looking South from the Tower

This is a view of the San Jouquin River Canyon looking towards Fresno County.

Photo, Looking Southwest South from the Tower Photo, Looking West from the Tower

This is a view of the San Jouquin River Valley looking towards North Fork, Bass Lake and Oakhurst.

Photo, Looking Northwest from the Tower Photo, Looking Northwest North from the Tower

This is a view of the San Jouquin River Valley looking towards Oakhurst, Ahwahnee and Little Shuteye Peak.

Photo, Looking at Monument Stone from the Tower Photo, Looking Southwest at the Tower

This is the Shuteye Monument in memory of past Forest Service Personnel, plaques are visible at base of the monument in expanded photo, and Shuteye Lookout Tower from the Northeast.

Photo, Looking Northwest from the Tower Photo, Looking Northwest North from the Tower

Shuteye's In Memorium Monument Rock honoring fallen Forest Service Employees and a Shuteye Sunset.

Photo, Looking Northwest from the Tower Photo, Looking Northwest North from the Tower

Osborn Fire Finder and a propane lanp for lighting.

Photo, Looking Northwest from the Tower Photo, Looking Northwest North from the Tower

Interior of tower looking Southeast.

Photo, Looking Northwest from the Tower Photo, Looking Northwest North from the Tower

Interior of tower looking Southwest.

Photo, Looking Northwest from the Tower

Interior counter facing West.

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Return to California State Lookout Page. Photo, Tiny Fire Picture Return to Lookouts Home Page.

This page last updated on March 1, 2013.

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1995 Miami Mountain Volunteer Fire Lookouts


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