Sweeping views of the Mission and Swan mountain ranges at an elevation of nearly 7,500 feet aided the U.S. Forest Service in early fire detection. From 1957 through 1967, Mineral Peak was a primary lookout point. Lolo National Forest Service staff built the current station to replace a previous lookout. The Wood Fabricating Company in Portland shipped the lookout house kit to Montana. Since the site was accessible only by pack trail, a Forest Service crew bulldozed and bladed a thirteen-mile road from Gold Creek to the top of Mineral Peak. They then drove the bundled materials to the site for assembly. The 1936-pattern L-4 Lookout House sits atop a 53-foot straight timber tower. The house portion is of simple V-Rustic wood siding capped with a pyramidal roof of green-stained sawn cedar shingles. Ribbons of windows on all four sides afforded views of the surrounding forest. Most of the original top-hinged shutters, all but one now in the closed position, remain. Four flights of open stairs lead to the catwalk that spans the perimeter of the lookout. The site served until 1968 when an inspection determined that Mineral Peak had reported few first discovery fires. The 15,400 acres of surrounding forest contained no high values of timber and the access road was poor. Given these deficiencies, the Forest Service downgraded the site to an emergency lookout. By 1974 it was manned only during extreme fire danger and began to deteriorate. Vacant from 1980 to 2005, the Missoula Ranger District refurbished the lookout to shelter occasional backpackers and hikers.



L-4 Lookouts on the Lolo National Forest, Missoula, Montana ~ Public