News Brief: “Lightning Bill” Austin

News Brief: “Lightning Bill” Austin

“Lightning Bill” Moves From Goat Peak to Leecher Lookout


Written for Washington Trails magazine


Visit the published article here


OKANOGAN–WENATCHEE NATIONAL FOREST – Those hoping to catch a glimpse of U.S. Forest Service lookout legend “Lightning Bill” Austin will find him in a new spot this year. After a 19-year tenure at Goat Peak in Mazama, Austin has been reassigned to the Leecher Mountain Lookout southeast of Twisp. The move comes amid a shrinking Forest Service budget and shifting firefighting resources.

Austin, who lives in Bridgeport when he’s not watching for forest fires, is the only full-time seasonal fire lookout remaining in the Methow Valley Ranger District. But that’s not his only claim to fame. During his time at the Goat Peak Lookout, Austin earned a cult following for personally greeting many of the lookout’s 2,000 visitors each summer and inviting hikers inside during lightning storms. He especially loved giving tours to children. Over time, he arguably became as much of a tourist attraction as the lookout itself and now stays in touch with his so-called fan club via a popular Facebook page.

As of mid-June, Austin has settled into the Leecher Mountain Lookout and is ready for visitors. Connect with him and learn more about his life in the lookout at

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