R-6 Flat Top
(1954 to present)
R.H. SPRAY, April, 1995


R-6 Flat Top      The flaws of the L-4 were few but the years made it desirable to come up with a new design to correct them and to utilize new materials. The Flat Top was slightly larger than the L-4, 15' x 15', but the extra foot in each direction made a big improvement in the interior livability. The flat roof further strengthened this area and made trips to the "top" by the lookout far less traumatic. The windows were all single pane and designed to be much more water resistant which was a major weakness of the L-4. However, visibility, a perennial problem, was not improved.
     By the time the R-6 Flat Top came out, the L-4 had become so immortalized that the new design was only reluctantly accepted. Although it probably was an overall improvement, it also had flaws. Most lookouts who served in both types thought the lack of shutters and resultant loss of shade over the windows increased the glare. Cost was also much greater.
     R-6 Flat Tops are still being constructed or being moved from one mountain to another and are the most common structure at active lookout sites. The Deschutes doesn't have many, but Lava Butte, Green Ridge, and Odell Butte all are equipped with Flat Tops. A Flat Top was constructed on Cultus Mountain in 1958 to replace the original L-5 but was destroyed in 1968. The Flat Top on Iron Mtn., Willamette NF, was moved from Herman Peak, Siuslaw NF, where it was no longer needed in 1976 by a huge logging helicopter.

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