dispatches & explored

Station to Station No. 6: Thorn Meadow Guard Station

Sometimes, I wish this building would just get bulldozed, or finally go up in smoke. Better that than suffer the ignoble crawl toward decrepitude to which the clowns subject it.

IMG_8234

Thorn Meadow Guard Station, 1950s
Thorn Meadow Guard Station, 1950s. Image courtesy LPNF Archives.

But anyway.

Thorn Meadow was built (according to official USFS literature) in 1907, earlier than those — like Alamar Station — built by the CCC during the Depression, and of a slightly more modest design. Wires and insulators utilized to keep it in contact with Thorn Point Lookout (built 1934) and the numerous now-forgotten guard stations in the region (Hartmann, Tecuya, Big Spring [Alamo Mountain]) are still visible along the trail leading up to Thorn Point, sunk deep into the boughs of ponderosa, sugar pines, and cedars.

Alamar Guard Station, July 1937
Alamar Guard Station, July 1937. Image courtesy LPNF Archives.

Thorn Point, July 1940
Thorn Point Lookout, July 1940. Image courtesy LPNF Archives.

Weekend before last whilst camping at Thorn Meadow (Snedden), AL and I made the walk over to the guard station site to find the long-nailed-shut door had been torn open. And while bears have been known to make a mess of things on occasion, leave it to we bipeds to really f*ck things up. We embarrass ourselves; truly we do.

Thorn Meadow Guard Station, Summer 2013
Thorn Meadow Guard Station, Mauled. Summer 2013.

Blame the Bees!
Madulce Cabin, Mauled. Fall 1979 (Pre-restoration). Image courtesy WMcCall.

One of the factors really working against Thorn is that unlike other remaining guard stations of the southern LPNF (South Fork, Bluff, and Santa Cruz), one can drive right up to Thorn Meadow. South Fork is deep in the wilderness, and Bluff and Santa Cruz are at least afforded the protection of being on an administrative road (not that such placement helped either Alamar or Happy Hollow, but we digress).

What follows are my admittedly non-photographer’s-eye shots of the interior. Enjoy these in case you don’t have the chance to visit before it finally does come down.

Thorn Meadow Guard Station, Summer 2013

Stay Classy, Grade Valley

Thorn Meadow Guard Station Interior, Summer 2013

Thorn Meadow Guard Station Interior, Summer 2013

Thorn Meadow Guard Station Interior, Summer 2013

Thorn Meadow Guard Station Interior, Summer 2013

Thorn Meadow Guard Station Interior, Summer 2013

Thorn Meadow Guard Station Interior, Summer 2013

Thorn Meadow Guard Station Interior, Summer 2013

Thorn Meadow Guard Station Interior, Summer 2013

Thorn Meadow Guard Station Interior, Summer 2013

Thorn Meadow Guard Station Interior, Summer 2013

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8 Responses to Station to Station No. 6: Thorn Meadow Guard Station

  1. Jack Elliott says:

    I would like to salvage some of the old weathered wood at some of these sites. Like, for example, the Caliente Peak lookout, which has collapsed and lies as a pile of lumber. I wonder what the laws are pertaining to such a thing. It seems to me that salvaging some of the wood would be little different than picking up litter at this point at some of these places. And if the wood is just going to be left there to rot or eventually hauled away and thrown away, why not? I have a few maps I would like to frame using old weathered wood from around out there. Maybe frame up some choice photos of the LPNF or something, too.

  2. EMW says:

    I have never thought of the problem the way you state it but I see that you are correct. It is better the building go down in a grand event that be slowly, incrementally subject to this degradation. Since the early 1970s this has been a favorite area, especially the hike to Thorn Point, but it was always subject to vandalism given the relatively easy access. I would like to see a push for restoration of several signature locations in the Southern Los Padres. Sadly, maybe this one should be triaged as unsalvageable and instead be given a proper, dignified ending. Perhaps it is better to save effort for areas that will be less accessible for those bent on destruction. Like everyone else I would prefer enforcement of good behavior but one must be realistic.

  3. bardley says:

    what surprises me is how much the concrete block outhouse has been degraded by gunshot and the guard station just around the corner has not.

  4. I was also shocked at the savage shooting of the outhouse at Thorn Meadow on my visit to Thorn Point Lookout last month. But then, I can’t imagine the selfish mindset it takes for vandalism. How can one come all the way out there to this gorgeous outdoor setting and laugh hysterically while emptying clips into a structure? My enjoyment of the silence of the area was shattered by my imagination of the sound that must have accompanied the assault.

    I will never get it.

    I also agree that there is a pretty darn good correlation between vandalism/littering and road access.

  5. Steve C says:

    “How can one come all the way out there to this gorgeous outdoor setting and laugh hysterically while emptying clips into a structure?”

    Maybe the Bud Light can is a clue. I see lots of Bud Light cans in places where idiocy and disrespect occur in the outdoors. Does drinking bad beer make you stupid, or is it the other way around?

  6. Scott says:

    We use game cameras in tracking classes. They are not that expensive. Why not put a few around vandalized areas in the backcountry to see who is going in and out? It would take some effort to record what the cabin looked like on a certain date and then tie any further degradation to the photos of whoever entered, but it might be something volunteer rangers would like to do. Just a thought.

  7. Gravy McDaniels says:

    I’d have to disagree with the idea that taking the wood even if it is simply in a pile is a good idea. Part of the mystic and wonder of the wilderness is coming upon a old pile of wood. That’s when you are provided the opportunity to ponder what people like ourselves were doing all the way out here! A lot of times in can be the only clue that there were people ever there. I don’t care if it’s in a pile or just a single cut board; it makes you wonder, and that’s the fun part.

  8. Walt cransto says:

    Does anyone see that past all the whining is the irony of the douche bag who wrote in marker, the complaint about the bullet holes. Because defacing the station’s inside wall with a Sharpie is insignificant compared to gunshots.

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