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Oral history interview with Billy Gean Ellis, 2002 October 26

Identifier: DCL2002.090


Billy Ellis recounts his early days as lookout at the fire lookout station on Devils Head summit in Douglas County, Colo., the last manned fire lookout station in Colorado. He describes the lookout tower and facilities, and how the summit changed over time since the first tower was built in 1919. He also describes the surrounding area and the trails leading up to the tower, and how supplies arrive at the lookout tower and waste is disposed of. He also recalls various memorable events at the station like weddings and lightning strikes at the summit, as well as remembering when he and his wife hiked up the trail with snow drifts over their heads. Part of the interview consists of Ellis and Young reviewing many early photographs provided by Ellis of the lookout tower.


  • 2002 October 26

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Biographical / Historical

Billy Ellis was born in Dallas, Tex., and grew to love the outdoors during many trips to visit his grandparents who lived in the country. He served in the Korean War in the Army Infantry and originally moved to Colorado after a daughter, one of his nine children, was diagnosed with severe asthma. Working for the U.S. Forest Service, he became a full-time lookout in 1984 on Devils Head, the only active fire lookout post in Colorado, located in the Pike National Forest in Douglas County. At the time of the interview he had served eighteen years in that capacity, along with his wife Margaret.


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