Castle Fire burns down two historic guard stations

Two guard towers built in the 1930s were lost in September during the Castle Fire National Park Service announces

SPRINGVILLE – The Castle Fire left destruction in its wake and that does not just include individual homes. The National Park Service announced last week that they had to say goodbye to a couple of historic guard stations.

The park service said they were located in the western divide ranger district in the Sequoia National Forest: Mountain Home Guard Station and Grey Meadow Cabin. They were lost in September.

“The Castle Fire burned at an alarming rate of spread during the weekend of Sept. 12 and 13, 2020,” stated District Ranger Eric LaPrice. “Fire officials had to forgo any attempt to insert firefighters into the area to protect structures in the path of the fire; firefighter safety had to come first.”

The Mountain Home Guard Station was built in the early 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as a residence for Forest Service fire patrolmen stationed in the area. The exterior was constructed of redwood board over diagonal sheeting nailed to a standard wooden frame. The cabin had many original features, including kitchen cabinets and wood floors.

Grey Meadow Guard Station was one of many facilities built to establish a Federal presence in the backcountry of the Forest Reserves of the Southern Sierra. It was both an administrative site and a fire station. Forty acres were set aside for this facility in 1908.

Lodgepole pine logs were hewed and shaved into studs, rafters, and joists with adz and drawknife. Shakes for the roof and sides were split from blocks of sugar pine with a froe and mallet. The flooring and the furnishings for this cabin were packed in by mule train from Springville. It was completed in 1916 for a cost of $90. An additional 10 acres were added to the facility in 1932.

The 1930s saw the construction of a nearby public campground. “As you can see in the pictures, there were not a lot of trees around the cabin,” stated LaPrice. “Chances are this cabin caught fire from an ember cast upon it by the approaching Castle Fire. Yet another significant loss of our history in the Sequoia National Forest.”

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