A Birmingham treasure – the Ruffner Mountain fire lookout tower

Photo by: Rob Brewer

Did you know Ruffner Mountain has a fire lookout tower?

According to Bhamwiki, the Wharton Lookout Tower (also called East Lake Tower) is a 100-foot tall galvanized steel frame fire lookout tower erected in 1941 by the Civilian Conservation Corps on Ruffner Mountain near East Lake in what is now the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve.

Several years ago, there was talk about refurbishing the tower for public use.  Bham reader Rob Brewer visited the tower over the Thanksgiving holidays and provided us with the impressive photos.

Photo by Rob Brewer
Photo by Rob Brewer

Check out this 2013 video of former Ruffner Mountain Executive Director Robbie Fearn giving a presentation on the tower’s potential restoration.


  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.