World War II: Observation Posts
Concern about a military invasion of the western Washington coast brought the National Park Service
into the war effort. Military radar did not cover all the remote mountain and coastal areas of the
strategic Olympic Penisula. To augment this coverage, both the U.S. Army and the U. S. Coast Guard
instituted programs that established observational lookouts. The Army formed the Aircraft Warning
System (AWS). Thirteen ASWS lookouts were within the mountainous terrain of Olympic National Park,
supplied and maintained by the Park Service. These lookouts consisted of both existing park
structures and a series of new buildings constructed specifically for the AWS program. Existing
fire lookouts, like Dodger Point, were quickly brought into the program. Others, like Pyramid Peak,
were hastily constructed during 1942.
The Coast Guard established a second program of lookout stations and outposts along the coasts of
Oregon and Washington called the Northwest Sea Frontier Coastal Lookout System. Here new facilities
had to be constructed. One of the new lookouts was at the mouth of Starbuck Creek being the Starbuck
lookout at the mouth of Starbuck Creek, roughly four miles south of Lake Ozette.
Both these systems were operated until 1944.
The basis of judgment for evaluating Pyramid Peak and the Coastie Head Lookout cabin is a
Conservation policy of preserving the structures more as objects of interpretation. There is no
formal policy for their use within the management of the National Park, except for the occasional
hikers. Within such a policy, stabilization of the basic structure and envelope are the main goals.
Original material should be preserved and function, the main design character of the structure
retained, but little beyond stabilization should be pursued. Such preservation measures may include
minimal and limited restoration of deteriorated material and replacement in-kind of material and
assemblies that have reach their service life only for the soundness of the essential structure and
Elements of Significance and Character Defining Features:
Within the goal of preserving Pyramid Peak Lookout and Coastie Head Lookout cabin, the concept of
significance plays a vital role in establishing maintenance policy. For historic structures,
significant elements are those qualities of the building that provide historic meaning and
Both these structures are significant for their association with the short history as observation
posts in World War II. Their design and construction represents the most functional use of
materials. And while they have retained some of the integrity of setting, design, materials,
and association with an important aspect of the Park's history, it cannot be overlooked that
neither were constructed for durability or longevity.
In terms of significant character defining elements of the lookouts, the single most important
character is their location. It was the location that created these buildings and the location's
value for the war effort. Retaining the basic elements of the structures in a state of minimal
stabilization provides interpretive meaning to an obscure civilian and military wartime action.