Fifty-three years ago William Hilton climbed to a 3,200-foot-high perch atop a lookout tower atop Squaw Mountain (which is practically atop the state of Maine) and looked down upon hundreds of square miles of timberland. Having recovered his breath, he jotted down: "Clear. South wind." This unmomentous line was the first entry made by a forest fire lookout.
Hilton and his tower are the ancestors of today's thousands of towers, lookouts, scramble crews, smoke jumpers and other intrepid foresters who are keeping fire off the top of the list of timber enemies. Among those who have profited directly from this conservation effort is Hilton himself, today a vice-president of the Great Northern Paper Company, whose raw material is the trees he has helped conserve over five decades. From time to time Hilton mounts his old lookout post and always finds satisfaction in the view: "Despite decades of timber-harvesting, the area I see today is just as truly a wilderness as it was that June day back in 1905."