Originally named Thunder Mountain, Bertha Hill has the distinction of being the first forest fire lookout in the Western U.S., in 1902. Various interpretations exist, but the summit arrived at it's present name most likely from some college boys at the trail camp located on the twin-humped mountain. The first lookout here was Mable Gray, who was the cook at the trail camp. Her tower, on the western summit, consisted of a 15' hemlock snag, where she sat on a limb looking for smoke between mealtimes. Several crude towers were erected over the next 3 decades on both summits. Finally in 1933, the higher east summit was made the permanent lookout site, consisting of a 40' pole tower with L-4 cab. This was replaced in 1958 by the present 54' all-steel live-in tower, the superstucture having originally been part of Scofield Lookout. The lookout was staffed regularly up to the 1995 fire season, and has been used for emergency detection since that time. Two lookouts have been killed while on duty at Bertha Hill: one by lightning on one of the early towers that didn't have a grounding system; the other on the present tower in the 1960's, when she fell from the tower. Thus, the present lookout was outfitted with a security fence at a 45 degree angle around the balcony.
Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association
29 miles northeast of Orofino
Clearwater County, Idaho
Elevation 5520'

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Bertha Hill in 1902 Bertha Hill in 1910 Bertha Hill in 1924 Bertha Hill in 1933 Bertha Hill in 1958 Bertha Hill in 1997
Photos courtesy the Fire Lookout Museum, Fords Creek Research Center, and Rex Kamstra