Wharton Lookout Tower

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The Wharton Lookout Tower (also called East Lake Tower) is a 100-foot tall galvanized steel frame fire lookout tower erected in 1941 by the Civilian Conservation Corps on Ruffner Mountain near East Lake in what is now the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve. The tower's site is at 1,216 feet elevation, bringing the observation deck to over 1,300 feet above sea level.

The tower is an example of the Model MC-39 tower manufactured and sold by the Aermotor Windmill Company. The top of the tower, accessed by a stairway, is enclosed by a 7-foot by 7-foot cab. A ladder provides access to a rooftop platform that once supported a beacon used to assist pilots landing at Birmingham Municipal Airport.

Ruffner Mountain executive director Robbie Fearn is working to restore the tower and open the observation platform to visitors for a small fee. Jay Pigford of ArchitectureWorks is providing architectural services for the project, and Structural Design Group is performing engineering work.


  • Cason, Mike (December 24, 2012) "Birmingham's highest point: Ruffner Mountain planning to restore fire tower for public viewing." The Birmingham News

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