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Tallowbox was named after a ... tallow box

You mentioned Tallowbox lookout in your article about fire lookouts the other day. I've been scratching my head for years how Tallowbox got its name. Do you have any information about the name or anything about its history?

— Frank S., Medford

It certainly has an unusual moniker, one which has no doubt caused plenty of head scratching down through the years, Tom.

For those who don't know the mountain, it stands 5,023 feet tall on the south side of the Applegate Valley. If you were a crow, you could take off from the picturesque hamlet of Applegate, fly about four miles southeast and you'd smack right into it.

There was a staffed fire lookout up there for years until three morons — we would prefer to use a stronger term but must remind ourselves this is a family newspaper — vandalized the site in 2007.

The pond scum have not yet been caught. Cameras have since replaced the human staff at the fire lookout.

The fire lookout was established up there around World War I with A.H. Peachey, a teacher from Ashland, serving as the lookout for the first 12 fire seasons. Peachey spent his first few summers atop Tallowbox in a tent, he told the Mail Tribune in 1940.

As for the name, we go back to the handy dandy "Oregon Geographic Names," the bible for Oregon place names. The good book tells us the most believable story is that a group of deer hunters nailed a wooden box on a tree growing on the mountain to hold tallow from deer they had bagged. They apparently wanted to save the tallow but didn't have the ability to take it home in one trip.

The story the book's authors were told was that the hunters never salvaged the tallow, and the name stuck.