Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum

The Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum is located at the Illinois Valley Airport about five miles south of Cave Junction. The Base is adjacent to Highway 199, the only east-west road in the region that goes through Redwood National Park.

Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum

A practice jump at the Base

The Siskiyou Smokejumper Base was established in a sequence of phases beginning in 1943 and ending in 1957. At the height of operations, from 1957 through to 1981, the Base encompassed an area of about 5 acres. Though small in size, the Base had the capacity to provide direct first response fire suppression for all of the Pacific Northwest and California. Nicknamed “the Gobi” because of the desert-like terrain of the area, the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base was the first jumper base established in Oregon and one of the first jumper bases established in the nation. Other bases constructed in the same time period have since been torn down or moved. The Siskiyou Smokejumper Base is the last remaining base out of four bases established at the beginning of smokejumper history.

Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum

Exiting the Twin Beech

In 1981 the Base was closed by the Forest Service due to economics and a changing philosophy regarding fire suppression. The buildings reverted to the ownership of Josephine County where they remained primarily vacant and began to deteriorate. In 2004, Josephine County decided to bulldoze the Base. A public outcry occurred and a non-profit was formed to save and restore the Base. The non-profit acquired a long term lease of the Base and restoration work began in earnest. Utilizing the volunteer work of many skilled craftsmen, the Base has been largely restored and many of the buildings are listed on the state and national registry of historic sites. Artifacts have been acquired and exhibits constructed detailing the fascinating history of smokejumping. The museum, while still a work in progress, is in its second season of being open to the public and the response of visitors has been gratifying and encouraging. The museum offers free guided tours from March 15 – November 15 between the hours of 10:00 – 4:00. Self-guided tours are also available.

Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum

Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum’s “new” Twin Beech waiting in Bandon for a tow to Cave Junction

The Four Way Foundation is proud to have assisted the Museum in 2012 acquire a non-operational display Twin Beech airplane to enhance the museum. While 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, and how can you tell the full story of smokejumping without an airplane? A non-operational Twin Beech was located in Bandon, Oregon and a team of ex-jumpers figured out how to load it on a trailer and haul it to its new/old home in Cave Junction, despite the fact it was 17 feet wide (a super-wide load is 14 feet wide). This commitment to making things happen certainly connects to the Four Way Foundation philosophy!

Visit the Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum website.

Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum Work Crew

Many volunteers in front of the Twin Beech