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.”
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.
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.
The Moon Tree Run, presented by Healthy U, at the Sisikiyou Smokejumper Base Museum, Sunday, September 22 at 10:00 AM.
Participate in a fundraiser commemorating the Apollo missions of the 19160s and 70s and Stuart Roosa, 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.
Moon Sprout Relay for kids
Kids 10 and under, Free! Register on the day of the Moon Tree Run by 9:00 AM.
Base Tours, Moon Tree Ceremony, and Awards
Tours of the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base will be offered. When the race is over at 11:30 AM there will be a special presentation on the history of the moon trees, a commerative moon tree ceremony will be held, and Moon Tree Run awards will be given.
Register at the Healthy U website www.healtyucenter.org or call (541) 592 4888. Contact Lindsey, Moon Tree Race Director, at (541) 592-4888 to volunteer. Check-in is at 9:00 AM, Sunday, September 22.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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