By Tommy Albert (CJ 64)
Who would have ever thought a bunch of rag-tag jumpers could pull this off? But after 10 years of blood, sweat, and laughs, the base has never looked as good. It is now restored to its early 1950’s appearance with all the buildings shingled. The interiors have been refurbished and work continues on the displays.
This will be a never ending project but we have come a long, long way. Though we have a limited budget without the means to formally advertise, word of mouth and the signs posted on Highway 199 keep our visitor numbers increasing each year.
We have had over 2,200 people tour the base this year. Our visitors come from all over the country including some from Australia, Europe, and Asia. The unique story of smokejumping captivates the visitors and all have positive comments after their tour. Our volunteer tour guides say the enthusiasm of the guests creates a wonderful interplay of dialogue making it a pleasure to lead the tours. Again, all of us know the story of smokejumping is a fascinating one, especially to those who have never even heard of a “smokejumper.” You are invited to volunteer as a tour guide. It is a fun experience.
This past year saw many improvements and projects completed or initiated. One of the major accomplishments was restoring the original Base Manager’s residence that was constructed in 1948. Cliff Marshall (CJ 46), the second Base Manager lived in the residence followed by Jim Allen (NCSB 46), then Al Boucher (CJ 49). Later, married couples resided there during the summer and jumpers and pilots stayed there during the winter months.
The residence took a lot of work as it was pretty well run down, both exterior and interior. We had a lot of dry rot from the leaking exterior walls and windows; the plumbing was in shambles, the rugs and some flooring needed replacement, etc. The only good thing about the residence is the jumpers had insulated it prior to the base closing. Now the residence is a warm, comfortable home. The interior is freshly painted and a new wood burning stove was installed. The exterior has a new vapor barrier on the outside covered completely with wood shingles, again restoring it to its original appearance.
Dave Laws (RAC 66) got tired of the big city and now resides in the residence. He is a god send to the base as he is not only one of the primary tour guides along with Gary Buck (CJ 66), he maintains the grounds which have never looked this good.
We have started on the training area by erecting the old historic shock tower. This was a major project. First we had to locate the tower as it had been removed from the base and disassembled. Many of the components had been modified or lost. Then we had to go through the process of obtaining permission to reconstruct it on the base as the land belongs to the county and there were liability issues we had to overcome. To do so, we had to present professional engineering plans. We had to completely rebuild the top of the shock tower as that was one of the parts missing. There are still some finishing touches to perform but the main tower is standing tall on the property.
North Cascades Smokejumper Base, Redmond Smokejumper Base, Redding Smokejumper Base, and McCall Smokejumper Base have all assisted with materials to improve displays and we have a loan of old radios from the Missoula Smokejumper Museum to display in the admin office. Their support is very much appreciated.
The Twin Beech airplane project is not progressing as we had hoped. Our problem is obtaining an on-site hanger to paint the plane in. There are some facilities but the cost to rent them is prohibitive at this point. We are delaying assembly of the plane because painting is easier and cheaper unassembled. Harold Hartman (CJ 65) is working on some grants to get the project back on track. To help fund this project, you can send a check to the Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum at:
SSB Museum Fund
PO Box 2223
Cave Junction, OR 97523
We are enjoying a very successful, and ongoing, fundraising campaign that has not only brought in some much needed funds but has proven to be an interesting display and a popular part of the tours. It is the permanent posting of names over the ready room racks of those who jumped out of Cave Junction and a special area for those who boosted at CJ. If you jumped or boosted at CJ, you are invited to have your name permanently inscribed on the rack. It requires a $100 tax deductible donation to the museum. Send a check made out to the Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum to:
168 Anchor Rock Ln.
Eastsound, WA 98245.
Come visit if you get the chance. We know you will enjoy the experience and undoubtedly it will bring back some wonderful memories of times past. In addition, our Museum Store has some fascinating items that you will be interested in for yourself or as a gift.
Thanks to Harold Hartman, Ken Swift, Gary and Chris Cote, Hugh and Collie Rosenburg, Gary and Kathy Thornhill, Steve Baumann, Gary Buck, Tahisha Buck, Walt Congleton, Larry Welch and Lanier Fischer, Jason Emonds, Mike Cramer, Pat McNally, Dave Laws, Mike Hardy, Tom Hunnicutt, Lee Gossett, and all others who volunteered at the last work week. Quite an effort by these folks.