Mount Constitution Observation Tower

Moran State Park Star

Of the many projects the Civilian Conservation Corps undertook on Orcas Island, one towers over them all.

Built in 1935-36, the tower on Mount Constitution takes center stage on the highest point in the San Juan Islands and is the star of Moran State Park. Visitors to the 53-foot fire lookout/observation tower are rewarded with spectacular 360-degree panoramic views of the islands and on clear days, Mount Rainier.

The tower was designed by Roland Koepf under the direction of Seattle architect, Ellsworth Storey. The Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) constructed it with over 700 tons of local sandstone from a quarry on the north shore of Orcas Island. Over its lifetime, it has served as a fire lookout, an observation/radio tower during World War II and during the 60s and 70s, it was the home of television station, KVOS.

In 1973, a plan to demolish the tower was thwarted by Orcas Island residents. KVOS agreed to restore the tower and switched their communication equipment to a new steel tower next to it. In exchange, they received an extension on their lease to use the area for their broadcast point. In 1974, the efforts were rewarded when the tower was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Restoration on the tower took place again in 2004, and a proposed new interpretive center is slated to open in 2019.
Today, visitors can park at the bottom of Mount Constitution and hike up about seven miles, ride a bike, or take the easy way and simply drive to the top to take in the breathtaking views.