GLORIETA, NM (KRQE) – Standing on spindly steel legs atop one of New Mexico’s tallest mountains, the abandoned Glorieta lookout tower provides a spectacular view of thousands of square miles of prime, rugged forest.
It’s a view that could be available for visitors to rent as a personal back-country home away from home next year.
“We want to be able to put it into the cabin rental program,” said Santa Fe National Forest archaeologist Mike Bremer.
“One of the things we’d like to do is give them a sense of what it was like to be a lookout,” said Bremer.
Bremer hopes to see re-installation of some of the observation equipment used by lookouts to spot and report fires.
The tower was built in 1940 by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
“That’s a historic period of time for this country,” said Bremer. “Part of the interest in redoing this tower is to give people a chance to kind of live that sense of history.”
While the steel frame is still in good condition, the wood and glass of the cabin at the top is in rough shape.
Abandoned a couple of decades ago, the cabin is now filled with etchings and graffiti from vandals. The wood is cracked, windows all broken out.
There is no money from the USFS to fix up the place. So, the non-profit Friends of the Santa Fe National Forest have stepped up to raise as much as $100,000 that is estimated will be needed to rehabilitate the tower.
“We don’t want it to look like a modern motel or anything like that,” said Bill Zunkel, president of the Friends of the Santa Fe National Forest. “We want it so that it’s serviceable and weather tight and lightning protected.”
The Friends have gotten a respectable start on their quest to rehabilitate the tower, already raising a total of about $9,000 from the Marshall L. and Perrine D. McCune Charitable Foundation and REI.
They are on the search for more corporate partners interested in supporting the forest and encouraging outdoor experiences.
The tower is accessible by an often rough and rocky forest road. It takes about an hour to reach the top of Glorieta Baldy from the nearest paved road near Pecos, NM.
Forest visitors could live in the tower for one to five nights for probably $30 to $50 dollars a night.
Monies collected would be used to keep the tower in good shape for future visitors and as a registered historical site.