Lookouts in History – Tobias Peak Lookout by Mary Ann Evans
The current lookout at Tobias Peak was built in 1935 by the United States Forest Service. Tobias Peak, part of the Greenhorn Mountain Range in Sequoia National Forest, was chosen to replace Sunday Peak Lookout after it was found that Tobias blocked the view from Sunday. Sunday Peak Lookout, considered a hazard, was burned down by the government in 1954.
Tobias is a “C-3” type cab that measures 14’ by 14’ on a foundation that sits on a pile of rock. Forest Service folks used this easy-to-come-by rock to construct the first building at Tobias which was built without one ounce of mortar. There was no door or glass in the window and the wind whistled through the walls. Early rangers (perhaps Norman Norris, Robert Beard or Ray Stevenson) used it as an occasional shelter as they were passing through.
To build the current cabin, supplies and building materials were brought in by mules, and maybe there was a horse or two involved as the trail was hard. In the early days of Tobias a person had to park whatever brought them there in a flat area about one tenth of a mile from the actual tower. Now, visitors can come within an easy 30 yards of the lookout.
Julian Olmsted manned the tower in 1937. He is a distant cousin on the same side of the Olmsted family as is the current lookout, Mary Ann Evans. In 1938, Harold E. Elsworth brought his new bride, Greta to the tower and spent their honeymoon at Tobias. There is a hidden meadow near Tobias where enterprising hikers might discover a well-preserved carved wood sign naming this, Stephenson Meadow. Ira Stephenson and his wife Donna manned Tobias from 1964 through 1972. There are names like Hockett and Brumfield on the roster that are the area’s pioneer names, and from time to time the very elderly will visit telling tales of coming to the tower when they were just children.
The mountain view is still as it was when the tower was built, with the Kaweah Peaks and Mt. Whitney standing very tall in the distance and the peaceful serenity of the wilderness valleys below.