Remembering Missouri’s Lookout Towers – A Place above the Trees

For half a century Bob Frakes pursued his “Forest Lookout Tower” hobby. All the time he collected papers, pictures, stories and friends. He was urged to put his memories down in a book and not let them be forgotten.

“Remembering Missouri’s Lookout Towers – A Place above the Trees” is finished.

It contains history. What preceded and created a need for the towers? It has stories. What is the goat doing on the top steps? It has technical information. What is the difference between an LS-40 and a MC-39? It has interviews. Those who worked the towers remember. It has submissions. Individuals who lived the life share their thoughts on themselves, what it was like and relatives. Others share their technical knowledge on fire finders, dispatch maps, the forest today, map projects, dozers, etc.

And of course, there are the pictures. The book contains over 300  images. Some are archival and one of a kind and many are in color. You can take a tower trip and never leave your living room.

You will also find tower names, towers moved, Bucksnort Foodstand, tower mysteries, Smokey Bear, the Royal Order of Squirrels, wood towers, steel towers, lookouts not towers, drone shots, and much more.

Missouri is often cited as the nation’s #1 conservation success story. Come examine this part of the story as to how it got that way.



About the Author

Bob Frakes

The author was born in St. Louis mid last century. He still has relatives scattered here and there in Missouri. His Dad was transferred to Southern Illinois where he would grow up and live. However, he and later with his wife would “keep the road hot” between there and Missouri.
Always a big believer in hobbies, he had several that followed him for much of his life. “Towering” was one of them. More than just a hobby, it would provide a source of many smiles shared with many “tower friends”. A public-school teacher for over 30 years (American History, World History, Geography, Government, Civics, Yearbook, and Golf Coach) he would hold undergrad and graduate degrees from SIU and EIU. Following his retirement, he began to write tower articles here and there reflecting an interest held by many in Missouri. He would do tower series for the Reynolds County Courier, Wayne County Journal-Banner, Summersville Beacon, Current Wave, and Van Buren Current Local. As a contributing writer, he would do a multi-part tower series for the River Hills Traveler and also do pieces on canoeing and the towers of Southern Illinois. He recently had a piece on the Possum Trot Towers published in the National Forest Fire Lookout Association magazine. In addition to visiting most of the standing towers in Missouri (he has left a few unvisited so as to not be sad at finishing such a fun journey) he has documented many historic sites as well as towers planned but not built and a few tower mysteries. He has also done research in Illinois and Indiana. He is often called by others seeking information and sharing his experiences and pictures for free. As much as he has enjoyed working on the book, he is looking forward to doing more research and finding a few fire trails he has not navigated and friends he has not met.


Remembering Missouri’s Lookout Towers Reviews:

The photographs and discussion of the structures are very interesting, but the author's obvious affection for the people, and their time, was most striking to me. I have bought two copies and will buy another, all for friends who are 70'+ and were once a part of rural Missouri. -Nancy P. via Amazon

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Many historic facts about many of the towers. Many stories about the observers and their fire observation work. The author took many photos and shared other photos from friends. 255 Pages, so there is a lot of information. – Mark W. Haughwout via

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My Grandfather worked the towers in southern Missouri when my brother and I were small. My mom and her sisters grew up climbing the towers at night and sharing secrets in the 1940s. Such a great book. Great memories and so much history I did not realize. Loved the pictures. Thank you for this great book. -Reviewed by ADW via Amazon


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