Pyramid Peak AWS Lookout

Pyramid Peak Lookout
Figure No. 1: Pyramid Peak AWS Lookout

Pyramid Peak was one of the new lookouts specifically built for the U. S. Army Aircraft Warning System (AWS) program within Olympic National Park. The Park had begun construction of a trail to the peak in September of 1942 to provide supplies for the new building. Mr. Joe Sherman finished construction of the lookout in November 1942.

Pyramid Peak lookout is a simple single story wood framed building measuring 12' x 15', with a small 6' x 8' wood shed. A series of three cedar log sills rest on a series of stone piers and carry stud-framed walls. The balloon stud frame has horizontal shiplap sub-sheathing on the exterior surface that is covered with 24" hand-split cedar shakes. The interior walls were covered with plywood. Wood floor joist support a two layer 8" shiplap floor. 2 x 4 ceiling joists connect to the heel of 2 x 4 rafters. There is a 1 x ridge board and 2 x 4 collar tie at the peak. The rafters are covered with solid sheathing and cedar shakes. A small rectangular window was framed on three elevations and a door on the front gable. Only two windows remained, but the glazing was missing. The entry door was missing. Originally, a small woodshed extended off the front elevation just outside the entry door, but had collaped.

The building was assessment for condition in 1997. The site was littered with the remains of the collapsed front woodshed, many of the boards with protruding nails making the site unsafe for visitors. The foundation and primary wood frame were considered in fair condition, as was the interior floor. The main problem with the structure was the poor condition of the shake roof. It had deteriorated to the point that moisture was coming through and warping and delaminating the plywood ceiling. At that time, the site was policed for debris and the remains of the collapsed woodshed staked for visitor safety.

By 2007, the stone foundation piers had weathered and eroded to the point of allowing the sill logs to rest in the dirt, resulting in a distortion of the floor and wall framing. Time and weather had deterioration most all the cedar shake roof and siding. This in turn allowed moisture into the building, deteriorating the floor, interior plywood sheathing, and the exterior sheathing.

In the spring of 2008, the National Park Service undertook substantial stabilization measures for the building. All the decayed and delaminated plywood, rotted floor, and debris were removed from the structure. The three sill logs were replaced, complete with original extensions beyond the wall plane, and the structure was jacked up and leveled. Stone piers were rebuilt under the sill logs. The south rim floor joist and two cross joists were repaired, one sistered and one replaced completely. 25% of the sub-floor was replaced. The remains of the cedar wall shakes and tarpaper was removed, and roughly 20% of the wall sheathing replaced on the north, south, and west walls. New tarpaper, corner trim, and shakes were installed. A new shake roof was installed after replacing all of the roof sheathing on the south side. The original eave trim was retained. Since the original coal heating stove was not going to be replaced, the roof thimble was not installed, but recorded and measured in project notes. Only the sill plates of the attached wood shed remained, but the sections of framed walls were found in the brush below the cabin. Between measurement of the walls section and historic photographs, enough evidence was developed to rebuild the shed.

Pyramid Peak Lookout
Figure No. 2: Floor Plan, Ellen Gage, Historical Architect, Olympic National Park

Two window sash remained, but without glazing. One sash was missing completely. The original sash were restored and reglazed. A new sash was fabricated to match the original. There was no historic evidence on the type or character of the door. In lieu, a new door was constructed in a style typical of backcountry doors during this period. It was made of 1 x 8 boards on a 2" x 4" "Z" frame.

Pyramid Peak Lookout
Figure No. 3: Section, Ellen Gage, Historical Architect, Olympic National Park

On the interior, the woods were recovered with plywood. Due to concerns of moisture within the wall cavity, small screens were installed at the base and top of the plywood to allow for inter-cavity ventilation. 1

Pyramid Peak Lookout
Figure No. 4: The style of the new door was based on the historic door of Olympus Guard Station

Pyramid Peak Lookout
Pyramid Peak Lookout
Figure No. 5: Project Photographs

1 The description of the stabilization measures were complied from the PWR Cultural Resources Project Accomplishment Report for Fiscal Year 2007 by D. Houk and P. Gleeson of Olympic National Park. Additional information was obtained from correspondence addressing 106 compliance for the project with the Washington State Historic Preservation Office.

Coastie Head spacer Table of Contents spacer Appendices