Tuesday, June 23, 2009


If you've been to Palomar Observatory you may have noticed the old National Forest Service lookout tower located on High Point.

Here's a view of the tower from right next to it:

The U.S. Forest Service closed the tower back in 1992, but Brad Eells and the San Diego - Riverside Chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association, Inc. have recently been leading the effort to restore the High Point Tower and re-staff it with volunteers. Brad just sent me this photo, taken in the 1970s, of the view from inside the High Point tower:

Image credit: Cleveland National Forest

Click to embiggen the photo of Towerman Saenz. Over his shoulder you can see the domes of the 48" and 200" telescopes. The dome for the 200" seems to be open in this shot. To the left of them is the dome for the 18" telescope.

I hear that in a few months there may be a webcam installed on the High Point Tower. If so, I'll post here to let everyone know. Here's my post from last year with a photo taken at High Point looking down at the observatory.


MrsLittleJeans said...

Nice! I was there ~10 years ago. And thanks!

Eliot Kalman said...

Surprised? But the word used for the title of this Palomar Skies article, "Towerman," has become the subject of a hot conversation on the Yoohoo firelookout blog.

So the queston for Public Affairs Coordinator Scott Kardel is, Why, in 2009, did you choose such an archaic, misleadingly gender-specifie term, for the title of your article? Consider, in your article you quote Brad Eels, from the Forest Fire LOOKOUT Association. I'd have gone with the accurate and gender neutral title "Lookout!"

On the other hand, Mr. Kardel's use, in that same article, of the Simpsonism, "embiggen," is to be commended.

Eliot Kalman, Athens, Ohio, member, Forest Fire Lookout Association and a The Simpsons fan.

Scott Kardel said...


I used the term "towerman" because when I asked Brad Eels the name of the person in the photo he said: "The last name of the “Towerman” is Saenz."

That wasn't a word I had heard before and thought it would be an interesting title for the blog post.

In hindsight, perhaps I didn't make the best choice for the title "Lookout!" would have been a good one too. So what is the correct, gender-neutral term for someone who works a lookout tower?

Eliot Kalman said...


Thanks for your thoughtful and cromulent response.

Gender neutral: I recommend Lookout; it's simple and non-sexist. But not all tower operators agree. And some yearn for the days where gender language was the norm. Go figure.

On another subject, one of the highlights of every summer in a lookout is August's Perseids Meteor Shower. I can't imagine a better place to watch. Wow!