Olson Observation Tower


View from Olson Tower

Backbone Mountain was the site of the first fire tower in the State of WV. Originally built in 1922 by the state, it was later transferred to the Monongahela National Forest. It was used until 1963 when it was replaced and named Olson Tower.

Olson Tower is located on Backbone Mountain in Tucker County. The elevation is approximately 3736 feet above sea level. It is accessible most of the year by a dirt road.

At a Glance

Operational Hours: Open yearly.  See Recreation Site Information.
Fees There are no fees.
Permit Info: Reservations are not accepted at this site.
Closest Towns: Parsons, WV
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Cheat Ranger District, PO Box 368, Parsons WV 26287 (304)478-2000, extension 0.

General Information


From Parsons travel approximately 7 miles north (east) on 219N. Turn right on Forest Road 18. Travel 0.4 miles and stay to the right at the Y intersection. This is FR 717. Continue on FR 717 1.6 miles to the parking lot below the tower.

General Notes:

Olson Tower is dedicated in honor of Ernst B, Olson in appreciation of his 28 years of devoted service in forest fire control and conservations programs on the Monongahela National Forest.

Recreation Map

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