Olson Observation Tower

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Olson Observation Tower
Fire Tower
Olson Observation Tower.jpg
Olson Observation Tower
Country United States
State West Virginia
County Tucker
Part of Backbone Mountain
Elevation 3,736 ft (1,138.7 m) [1]
Coordinates 39°06′24″N 79°36′12″W / 39.10667°N 79.60333°W / 39.10667; -79.60333Coordinates: 39°06′24″N 79°36′12″W / 39.10667°N 79.60333°W / 39.10667; -79.60333
Owner Monongahela National Forest
Easiest access drive-up via Forest Route 717.svg FR 717
Topo map USGS Mozark Mountain
Nearest city Parsons, West Virginia
Location of Olson Observation Tower in West Virginia
Website: Olson Observation Tower

Olson Observation Tower is one of the few remaining fire towers in Monongahela National Forest. Olson is located at the southern end of Backbone Mountain northeast of Parsons in Tucker County, West Virginia.

The southern end of Backbone Mountain is the site of West Virginia's first fire tower, originally built by the state in 1922.[1] This tower was later given to Monongahela National Forest, which replaced it in 1963 with the current tower.

The current tower is constructed of steel and features 133 steps leading to a cab on top. While the cab is closed to the public, the entire walkway up to the top is accessible. The tower provides 360-degree views of the surrounding area including the Cheat River watershed, Parsons, Blackwater Canyon, Canaan Mountain, Backbone Mountain and the Otter Creek Wilderness.

Olson Tower is named after Ernst B. Olson in recognition of 28 years of fire control and conservation program service to Monongahela National Forest.

Other facilities[edit]

A small picnic area is located along Forest Route 717 near Olson Tower.

Accessing Olson Tower[edit]

Olson Tower is located at the end of FR 717, a spur from FR 18. Both roads are gravel but can easily be traversed by normal passenger cars coming from U.S. Route 219 in the west. While FR 18 provides excellent views of Blackwater Canyon east of FR 717, this section of the road is only traversable by high-clearance vehicles. Passenger car travel is not recommended.

See also[edit]