Chenocetah Fire Lookout Tower, GA 2022
Chenocetah Fire Lookout Tower, GA 2022

Chenocetah Fire Lookout Tower, GA 2022

Chenocetah Fire Lookout Tower, GA 2022

New year, new state, and old structures come together in this HistoriCorps project! Work off those holiday indulgences at this unique, WPA-constructed fire tower in north Georgia, that typically only opens to the public one day per year!

PROJECT PARTNERChatahoochee National Forest

COMMUNITY PARTNER:  Habersham County Historical Society

SESSION DATES:  January 9-14 and January 16-21

Project Site Description & History

To those in the know, Northern Georgia is where it’s at for mountain scenery and recreation. Less than two hours from the cultural and economic powerhouse of Atlanta, the Chattahoochee National Forest offers big-city visitors and small-town dwellers alike an opportunity to reconnect with nature and history. The Chenocetah Fire Lookout Tower was built in 1937 and added to the National Register in 1984. The tower’s construction served two purposes: first, to leverage the Works Progress Administration program to employ farmers in poverty during the Great Depression, and secondly to assist the forest in spotting wildfires. The tower was used for fire observation purposes for 38 years. By 1975, technology advances ushered in other methods of land surveying, such as aircraft, and the tower was retained as a historic resource. Today it is only opened to the public one day per year, during the Big Apple festival of Cornelia, GA.

According to our partner, “It is a 54-feet high granite tower with a 14-footbase, with raised mortar and wooden observation room and hipped slate roof. Elongated 4/1 wood windows are featured on all elevations of the masonry structure and are arranged in a steeped pattern. The fire tower observation room contains three aluminum replacement windows with 1/1 sliding sashes and plexiglass panes on each elevation. The observation room is accessible by an interior steel staircase. The steel staircase, concrete flooring on the first floor, and metal door/wood door trim are painted a grayish-blue color.” The mountain is also home to one of the largest stands of rhododendron in the country!

The tower, located on land originally inhabited by the Cherokee and Yuchi nations, is located at the top of Chenocetah Mountain. Its name means “see all around” in the Cherokee language. Learn more about how Euro settlement of northeast Georgia impacted the Cherokee from the Rabon County Historical Society.

Volunteers will enjoy camping in the sublime Lake Russell Recreation Area.

Location and Logistics

PROJECT PARTNER:  Chattahoochee National Forest

SITE INFORMATION:    Tent camping only  Site is RV/trailer accessible  showers available

We will camp just 15 minutes away at Lake Russell Recreation Area and commute to the jobsite daily. The drive up to the lookout tower should be pleasant! Tent campers, truck campers, and those with small-to-medium RVs/trailers can access this campsite. However, there are no hookups. There are heated bathrooms and showers! NOTE: Camping conditions will be chilly. Lows can get into the low 30s, and highs can reach into the 50s. Volunteers should come prepared.


ABOUT VOLUNTEERING: HistoriCorps projects are free for volunteers! HistoriCorps will provide all meals, tools, training, equipment, and a campsite. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to the campsite, sleeping equipment, work clothes and boots, and other personal gear.

Historical marker on the tower.

A view of Lake Russell from the Chenocetah Fire Lookout Tower in the summer.

The tower is attractive from several angles.

Scope of Work


SCOPE OF WORK: HistoriCorps is committed to educating and training volunteers in preservation skills, with an overarching mission of inspiring a preservation ethic in all those involved. Learning and working alongside expert HistoriCorps field staff, volunteers will learn the skills necessary to restore the interior of the lookout’s cab and windows.

  • Observation cab interior carpentry repairs:  70%
  • Window preservation:  20%
  • Additional tasks:  10%

Please note: Tasks vary by day and by week, depending on a variety of factors including: weather, project priorities, previous groups’ work, and more. Though it is likely you will get to learn and practice most or all of the above tasks, it is not guaranteed. The higher percentage of the scope a particular task is, the more likely you will get to practice it.

Sign Up!

We’re thrilled this project has inspired you to volunteer! Choose your session and register below:

You will know your registration was successful when you receive a confirmation email. Contact for assistance.

HistoriCorps does not charge for its volunteering projects. HistoriCorps relies on donations to continue engaging volunteers to save significant historical sites across America for generations to come. Your donation of any amount will make an incredible difference! Increase your impact – make a generous gift today.

Volunteer Logistics, Policies, and Advice

We’re so glad you’re interested in joining this project! If you’re new to our community, review the Volunteer FAQ first! Please note the following logistics and policies:

  • HistoriCorps is committed to keeping our volunteers, staff, and project communities safe. All volunteers will be required to affirm that they will be fully vaccinated from the Covid-19 virus by the time their project begins. Read our Covid protocols here (updated October 2021).
  • Volunteering with HistoriCorps is free! We will provide all meals, tools, training, equipment, and a campsite or shared indoor lodging. Dinner is not provided on the first night.
  • Volunteers are responsible for bringing their own gear, sturdy work clothes and boots, and appropriate sleeping equipment. Check the average temperatures before you start packing – the nights and mornings may be colder than you anticipate! Then, read this advice about how to stay warm when tent camping in colder places.
  • Campsite accessibility varies by project. Some projects can accommodate tents only; others can accommodate small RVs. Please review the project site description above for more information, and if you’re still not sure, email for help.
  • If this project does not offer showers, you might want to consider bringing a solar shower or research other methods to clean up after the work day.
  • Volunteer crew sizes generally range from 4-8 volunteers, with two HistoriCorps staff that lead and train volunteers in the work.
  • Safety is one of HistoriCorps’ top priorities, and volunteers can contribute to a safe working environment by ensuring their physical fitness is adequate for the work. See above for this project’s scope of work and difficulty level. Please, call us if you are not quite sure if a project is a good fit for your skills or fitness level. We may be able to suggest a project more suitable and enjoyable for you.
  • Dogs are generally allowed to accompany their humans in project campsites (actually, we love having dogs join us around the campfire!). Dogs are not permitted on the job site for everyone's safety. HOWEVER: HistoriCorps also follows the rules and regulations of our project partner. If the project partner does not permit dogs onsite then HistoriCorps is no exception. Please ask HistoriCorps or the project partner directly if you have any questions about whether Fido is welcome.
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