Cover Story!

Photo credit: Kjell Petersen

Sunset through an Osborne Firefinder

This stunning shot by Kjell Petersen is the cover photo for my feature article in the April/May 2024 Montana Senior News.

Read the story at this link.

The Osborne device is used in mountaintop lookout towers to pinpoint locations of lightning strikes and forest fires. My story covers lookout history and the rugged folks who spent summers alone spotting fires in remote Montana wilderness.

Kjell is a retired forest service employee who survived three lightning strikes that hit his tower when he worked as a lookout. He helped me with research when I was writing Flight to Forever.

Another of Kjell’s photos became the book cover. 

Bonus photos that didn’t appear in the article:

Archive photo of Mt. Brown

A mountain goat comes to call.

Mt. Brown Lookout interior

Mt. Brown Lookout interior

Could you live in this cabin on stilts?



Here’s the exterior of the Mt. Brown Lookout in winter, covered in rime frost.



Montana Senior News can be found throughout Montana and is a freebie. Here’s the online link. 

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7 Responses to Cover Story!

  1. Kay DiBianca says:

    If we ever visit one of the towers, I’ll definitely take you up on the bear spray!

  2. Mary Ellen Gosman says:

    You have educated us again, Prof. Debbie! Thank you so much! We loved , “Flight to Forever”. It’s great to have all these true stories to add to it.

  3. Sue Ann Connaughton says:

    Debbie, what an interesting article. I like learning about the background sources for your novels. The lookout scenes in Flight to Forever were so realistic, now I know why.

    • DABadmin says:

      Thanks, Sue Ann! Meeting Kjell was a stroke of luck. He’s a vast reservoir of lookout lore and was kind enough to read Flight to Forever before it was published. Thank goodness he did b/c he caught goofs that would have been embarrassing.

  4. Kay DiBianca says:

    What a fascinating story about the history of the mountaintop lookout towers and the Osborne Firefinder. I would love to visit one of those places (as long as there aren’t any Grizzlies!)

    I read “Flight to Forever.” It’s a great story, and this article makes it that much more meaningful to me.

    • DABadmin says:

      Glad you enjoyed the article and the novel, Kay!

      A sidebar in the print edition has info about renting lookouts through Here’s a link:

      Mark Hufstetler who was another resource for the article will be stationed at a lookout in Glacier Park this summer. He assures me that anyone who visits him (and brings pizza) will receive the royal tour.

      If you come to MT, I’ll provide the bear spray!

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