Son of a Beech

Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museums new Twin Beech, June 1 2013 Beech retrieval

Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum's "new" Twin Beech waiting in Bandon for a tow to Cave Junction.

The Siskiyou Smokejumper Base was home to seven different types of jump planes during the near four decades of its existence. The Twin Beech was there the longest, from 1954 until 1974, 20 years. Though it stumbled a few times, overall, it was a steady and reliable workhorse for jump bases throughout the west.

The newly established Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum is fast becoming a popular tourist stop and the visitors thoroughly enjoy learning about smokejumping and firefighting. The loft, parachutes, jump suits, tools, stories of jumping and firefighting are fine; but, how can you tell the full story of smokejumping without an airplane?

Announcing the Apollo 14 Moon Tree Run and Firefighter's Fair at the Siskiyou Smokejumer Base Museum, Illinois Valley Airport, Saturday, June 7, 2014

2014 Moon Tree Run and Firefighter's Fair

The annual fundraiser breakfast for Volunteer Firefighters will take place in collaboration with 22 local nonprofits and agencies providing a day of youth activities, aircraft displays, remote control airplane demonstrations, museum tours, and more. Admission to the event is free. Illinois Valley Airport is located four miles south of Cave Junction. Parking will be at Rough & Ready Mill. Bring your families to enjoy breakfast, free ice cream from Schwans, participate in activities, and learn about opportunities for youth to get an airplane ride, participate in local youth sport programs, learn to fly a remote control airplane, and go through the firefighter obstacle course.

Smokejumper Project, Region Six, 1943

Heintzelmann-Sohler

Heintzelmann-Sohler

Jack Heintzelman was in charge of the Cave Junction Smokejumpers from the beginning of the bas in 1943 through 1945. Originally a Protection Assistant at the Redwood Ranger Station, he had no connection to parachuting. After three years as the head of the Smokejumper project, he returned to forestry duties. The following are excerpts from his 1943 end-of-the-season report to his superior, Forest Supervisor Hershel Obye, Siskiyou National Forest.

Smokejumpers at CJ 1943-1945

Crew Quarters; Miller, Yoder, Holyman, Kauffman; 1945

Crew Quarters; Miller, Yoder, Holyman, Kauffman; 1945

In May of 1943, the Mennonite Church opened CPS camp #103 in Missoula, Montana, at Seeley Lake. In that first year, 60 men were trained both in parachute jumping and fire fighting. Seven men were then sent to Cave Junction to serve under the leadership of Jack Heintzelman. In 1944, the number of smokejumpers doubled to 120 and 12 of them went to Cave Junction. Then in the last year, 1945, the training moved to Nine Mile Camp at Huson, Montana. The trainers were Earl Cooley, Wag Dodge, Jim Waite, and others. Fourteen of us agreed to go to Cave Junction. It was the final year of the CPS camps, and the base in Missoula closed in April of 1946.

2013 The Moon Tree Run

The Moon Tree Run, September 22, 2013 at the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum

The Moon Tree Run, presented by Healthy U, at the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum.

The Moon Tree Run, presented by Healthy U, at the Sisikiyou Smokejumper Base Museum, Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 10:00 AM.

Participate in a fundraiser commemerating the Apollo missions of the 19160s and 70s and Stuart Roose, pilot of the Apollo 13 command module. Roosa was one of the many smokejumpers who worked at the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base. Roosa carried seeds to the moon and back to earth which were then planted at various locations throughout the world. One of these seeds was planted at the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base.

Hanging Out with History in the Ready Room

Jumpsuits hanging

Historical photo of smokejumper jumpsuits at the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum.

As we restore the Gobi, one hope is to provide recognition to those who made the Gobi so meaningful. One show of recognition will be in the Loft to display the names of Gobi Jumpers above the Suit-Up rack in the Ready Room.

Any Jumper who was part of the CJ crew during their career is invited to participate in this fund raising campaign that will permanently inscribe your name at the base. For a donation of $100.00, your name plate will be placed above the Suit-Up rack in the Ready Room. You, a family member, or friend may also make a donation for a deceased CJ jumper in their recognition.

2013 Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum Work Week

Tom Hunnicutt installs the last shingle during a recent work week, September 7, 2012

Tom Hunnicutt installs the last shingle during a recent work week, September 7, 2012

The Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum will have its fifth annual work week from Monday, June 17 to Saturday, June 22, to continue work on restoration of the buildings at the historic base. This is the oldest-standing aerial firefighter base in North America and includes the oldest smokejumper parachute loft. Work hours generally begin around 9:00AM and end around 4:00PM. Volunteers are invited to work one hour or all day. It is a great opportunity to meet smokejumpers who worked at the base and enjoy the atmosphere of this historic site.

An Historic Smokejumper Base Comes Back to Life

Experience an exciting era when Jumpers parachuted into remote areas of our National Forests to extinguish lightning caused fires.

The Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum tells the story of early US Forest Service aerial wildfire suppression. Its story takes place in the remote and rugged forests of Southern Oregon and Northern California. Smokejumpers are highly trained firefighters who parachute from airplanes into remote forest fires to extinguish them while they are still small and controllable. Under favorable wind, temperature and fuel conditions, small fires, can grow to become major conflagrations, which destroy valuable forest resources, require large fire crews and are expensive to suppress. It is the job of smokejumpers to prevent this from happening.

One of the first smokejumper bases was opened by the USFS in 1943 and was located at Cave Junction, Oregon. This base was established as a response to various attempts by the Japanese during WW II to ignite massive forest fires throughout western forests: a strategy intended to disrupt America’s war effort by causing panic in the general population. (More information can be found at these sites. http://tinyurl.com/bmuhh7j http://tinyurl.com/9wmuvjs)

Siskiyou Smokejumper Base continued operation after the war and evolved over the years as one of four primary smokejumper bases located in Montana, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.  http://tinyurl.com/cbevoxv While in operation its crews were dispatched to thousands of lightning and human-caused fires throughout the western states, saving millions in resource damage and fire suppression costs. In 1981, after 38 years of firefighting distinction by 39 total crews, the U.S. Forest Service, in an effort to centralize resources, closed its base in Cave Junction.