Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum

Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum


Grant Brings New Resources

The Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum is updating displays, replacing signage, developing new walking guides and installing a wheelchair ramp providing better access to the Administration Building all thanks to a 2021 American Rescue Plan Act grant.

“The ARPA grant made a huge difference in what we can do as a museum,” said Gary Buck, President of the Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum board. “We’re able to reach more people with these new exhibits and make the smokejumper experience even more exciting.”

The new wheelchair ramp provides better access to the Office and Administration building
Gary Buck and Harold Hartman installing the wheelchair ramp providing access to the Office and Administration building, the operational nerve center of the Gobi.

Buck and three volunteers, Harold Hartman (himself a Gobi smokejumper), Linda Hartman and Dan Laws worked for four days to install the new ramp and later poured a concrete pad that connected the ramp to the walkway. The ramp provides access to the Office and Administration building, the last structure on the campus that had limited access.

The ARPA grant funded the development and manufacture of new signage, much of which was sun blasted and no longer legible. The new signs use a larger font size and so are easily viewed. Among the new signs are three interpretive panels at the Information Kiosk at the parking area. These panels show a redesigned self-guided walking route, historic photos and information on how the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base reduced acres lost to wildfire while it was in operation into the 1980s. The walking guide was also re-designed and was printed in both English and Spanish.

New Signage Improves Visitor Experience
The old signage on the left is sun blasted and nearly impossible to read. The new sign on the right improves the visitor experience.

Several new displays help to bring more of the history of the Base into the public eye. A 44′ television screen shows video of smokejumpers, their unique culture and lifestyle and also historic training films from the 1940s. A manikin clothed in authentic gear now expands the impact of the Triple Nickels’ exhibit. QR codes link to narrated smokejumper stories and tall tales; these QR codes are attached to displays in several locations in the museum and are easily found with a phone camera. In addition to this unique digital exhibit, the museum’s website was completely redesigned and adjusts to both mobile and desktop views. Finally, thanks to ARPA grant funding, the museum’s Internet connection was enhanced and made more secure providing better service to museum managers as well as visiting docents.

The American Rescue Plan grant to the Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum in 2021 was made by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act administered by the State Library of Oregon, and was implemented with the support of Southern Oregon University.


Smokejumper to Global Pilot: A True Odyssey

Lee Gossett tells the stories of his life as a smokejumper and as a pilot during the Vietnam War and for years after that. Follow his remarkable career in Smokejumper to Global Pilot: A True Odyssey. Drawn to aviation at an early age, Lee Gossett financed his quest for the cockpit by joining the elite smokejumper community. From fighting fires, he sought further challenges in Southeast Asia as an air specialist – a “kicker” – for Air America. Include several seasons and years as a bush pilot in Alaska, a cropduster in New Zealand, and Gossett moved from Air America to Continental Air Services, further supporting interests in Southeast Asia.

With gained experiences, Gossett’s expertise qualified him to fly U.S. government-sponsored tasks throughout Central and South America, the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Follow this unique story of a smokejumper who became a global pilot.

Follow a remarkable career. Drawn to aviation at an early age, Lee Gossett financed his quest for the cockpit by joining the elite smokejumper community. From fighting fires, he sought further challenges in Southeast Asia as an air specialist – a “kicker” – for Air America. Include several seasons and years as a bush pilot in Alaska, a cropduster in New Zealand, and Gossett moved from Air America to Continental Air Services, further supporting interests in Southeast Asia.

With gained experiences, Gossett’s expertise qualified him to fly U.S. government-sponsored tasks throughout Central and South America, the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Follow this unique story of a smokejumper who became a global pilot.


SSJM Recognized by the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers

The NCSHPR posted the following:

The Siskiyou Smokejumper Base in Cave Junction, Oregon, opened in 1943 in response to balloon bombs sent by the Japanese military in an unsuccessful attempt to ignite forest fires along the Oregon Coast. During the war, the base in the Redwood Forest Ranger District was staffed by conscientious objectors. Smokejumpers parachute out of planes into remote forests to fight small fires to keep them from spreading. The base at Cave Junction continued operating after the war as one of four major bases in Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. Its crews responded to thousands of fires in western states. It operated until 1981 when the U.S. Forest Service centralized Oregon smokejumping operations in Redmond, Oregon. The base, which is now the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places – NPS in 2006. Oregon Heritage and other National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers members help preserve the places that tell the story of the men and women who have placed their lives in jeopardy to fight wildfires.


Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum

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 plane from a distance.

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:

Garry Peters
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.


Hanging Out with History in the Ready Room

Secure your place in Gobi history with our Fundraising Campaign

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.

Gobites never leave, they just hang around.

Your participation in the Ready Room Name Plate Project will insure that the most important part of the Base is present, the people who made it. Along with your check, we will need your first and last name, your nick name if applicable, and the year you rookied (regardless of which base you rookied at). Additionally, we will need similar information for other Gobi Jumpers that you would like to recognize.

Make Check to:

Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum

Mail your check to:

Garry Peters
168 Anchor Lock Lane
Eastsound, WA 98245

The plate will be approximately 3”x 1” and contain your name, nick-name, and year rookied.

Revitalization, Restoration, and Upkeep

Where the Fundraising and your Support goes

Are you aware that a Twin Beech has been gained and will become an exhibit? It sits proudly on the pad outside the Ready Room awaiting restoration and jumper modifications. Well received guided tours are conducted daily and extend midMarch through mid-November? All major buildings have been restored to their historical appearance. The interior of the Saw Shack is next. It is looking like the Gobi you remember.

The Beech has just arrived. It still needs the wings and tail reassembled, smokejumper modifications, and a paint job.
News Uncategorized

Son of a Beech

Twin Beech plane home again waiting to be restored June 1, 2013 Beech Retrieval.

By Tommy Albert

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?

Harold Hartman pronounced to the museum Board of Directors that we were going to get one. You must know that our coffers were pretty austere so we must have looked like deer in the headlights after his announcement. To make a long story short, through his untiring effort and with the invaluable assistance of Jann Taylor, a board member, the museum acquired enough funding to start looking.

Twin Beech plane waits in Bandon to be towed South to Cave Junction Museum June 1, 2013.

Though they aren’t on every corner, Twin Beeches are not what one would call scarce; but, owners are pretty proud of them. One day in April, Wes Brown was giving tours at the museum and mentioned we were looking for a Twin Beech for static display. One of the tourist said, “We have one in Bandon (Oregon).” Wes passed this on the Harold. He went to Bandon, looked over the airplane and purchased it. Wow, we now owned a Twin Beech. One “minor” problem, Bandon is on the coast of Oregon just south of Coos Bay and the airplane is not airworthy and can’t be flown.

If you have ever traveled to the coast of Oregon over the coastal range, you know that the highways are narrow, curvy, mostly two lane roads with numerous narrow bridges. Even with the outboard wings off, the width of the Twin Beech is 17 feet. A “super” wide load is considered to be 14 feet. Did this make Harold nervous? Not on your life. Did it make the rest of us anxious? You bet your life!

Twin Beech moving south on I5 June 1, 2013 Beech Retrieval.

Harold began to research routes to get the plane to CJ. He investigated using a route that took us through northern California. Well, have you ever dealt with the California permit system? If so, you’d know you would have had to put your wife and her Mother up for collateral. Harold is a political type and must have pulled some strings but obtained an Oregon DOT permit to move the 17 foot wide load over Highways 101, 42, and 199, including a 64 mile stretch of I-5 from just south of Roseburg to Grants Pass.

The permit required us to have two lead pilot cars, a trail pilot car, and flagmen at certain points along the route as we had to close the highway to traffic at one major bridge crossing and for a seven mile stretch when going over the coastal range pass. Our rag-tag crew consisted of myself, Tommy Albert, Gary Buck, Wes Brown, Ken Swift (Mick Swift’s son), of course Harold Hartman, and his wife, Linda. Having been a leadplane pilot, I insisted on being the lead pilot car.

Twin Beech plance gets pulled through the gates at the Gobi.

We gathered in Bandon on Saturday, the day before our one day travel permit. Harold and Ken had already loaded the Beech on the 24 foot trailer (utilizing the tongue as well). One look and I said, “Yep, this is a jumper operation.” I swear I saw Murphy sitting on the wing. You know, how us jumpers got away with some of the outrageous “engineering” we came up with just to get the job done, is beyond me. There must be a jumper angel out there somewhere. We reinforced the rigging with whatever materials we could find laying around and loaded the elevator, vertical stabilizers, rudders, etc. into a separate trailer, then headed back to the motel. The weather that weekend was ideal, no rain, no wind, and no fog. I must commend the Bandon Aero Club. They were very helpful, a great bunch.

The Twin Beech plane is pulled past the office at the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum.

That night we picked up gourmet breakfast-for-champions, you know, the microwaveable kind, so that we could leave at first light. We briefed the trip and turned in for a restless sleep. All were up before first light and gathered at the airport with our little convoy. Tested the blinking wide load lights, inserted the flags, performed radio checks, and as soon as we could see, headed out (0535 PST).

Other than a flat tire on the trailer, the trip was really uneventful. You would have thought we know what we were doing. We had to be a curious sight from the reactions of passersby and bystanders but all went well. The Illinois Valley Airport sign was a wonderful sight. We pulled through the gate at 1220. Oh yes, what a relief it was.

The Twin Beech was off loaded on the ramp where one stood for 20 years. She sure looks at home. Though still parted out, the Twin Beech makes the Gobi look whole.

The retrieval crew (Wes Brown, Gary Buck, Linda Hartman, Harold Hartman, Ken Swift, and Tommy Albert) pose in front of the Twin Beech plane after recovering it for the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base. June 1, 2013.

We still have plenty of work to do but need to find some additional funds to complete the project. The plane has to be reassembled, painted, modified to include some of the smokejumping mods (static anchor line cable, spotter’s window, jump step, door rails, etc.). You are invited to participate. Harold formed the “SSB Twin Beecher Club” which helped get the project off the ground. A generous donation gets you a membership, a club hat, certificate, name engraved on the plaque that will be set near the Twin Beech, and the satisfaction that you are a part of preserving the unique history of smokejumping.

Donations toward the restoration to the Twin beech should be made out to :

SSB Museum Fund,
PO Box 2223,
Cave Junction OR 97523


An Historic Smokejumper Base Comes Back to Life

This post is an reproduction of the post from the previous Siskiyou Smokejumper website. The current version of the site was published in 2022.

Today, over 450 US Forest Service and BLM and smokejumpers, stationed at nine bases across the West and Alaska, still fulfill their original mission of keeping small fires small. Smokejumping remains a cost-effective firefighting strategy and continues to be an integral part of the team of pilots, air tankers, helicopters and ground crews which make up the modern wildfire fighting mix. (Smokejumper photos:

The restored smokejumper buildings which make up the museum are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and leased from Josephine County. The buildings are being renovated by a close knit group of over 200 ex-Cave Junction Smokejumpers and local volunteers. These jumpers still share a strong sense of comradery, and many meet each year for a week in June to visit, tell stories and continue restoration efforts.

Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and listed as a National Historic site. It features the oldest standing smokejumper parachute loft in North America.  It is guided by a volunteer Board of Directors whose mission is to preserve and tell the legendary story of a extraordinary place and the crews who worked there.

On display are authentic smokejumper equipment including parachutes, jump suits and firefighting tools. A remarkable archival photo collection can be viewed, which brings to life the spirit and adventure of this exciting period in firefighting history. Soon, a mockup of an actual smokejumper airplane will be added to the exhibits.

Consider adding Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum to your travel plans. We hope to see you soon and we know you find your visit interesting and enjoyable.