Pyramid Peak AWS 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
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
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.
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.
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