Siskiyou Smokejumper Base
Self Guided Tour
It takes about 15 minutes to follow a wheelchair accessible loop route around the base and read waysides explaining the story of this historic aerial firefighter base.
You can take the tour anytime of the day during regular airport hours.
Start the tour at the information kiosk next to the entrance road (Smokejumper Way). Here you will find information about the tour and a dispenser with a guide you can take with you as you walk.
There is accessible parking next to the kiosk.
Photo tour of the baseEach display panel has historic photos and explanations of what is seen in different parts of the tour route. The images below provide some additional views of the base.
Smokejumpers are firefighters who are trained to parachute into remote forested areas to combat wild fires. The aerial firefighter program was designed to get crews to fires quickly so the blaze could be put out when it was small and could be easily contained by one or two individuals using shovels. Despite the fact that this base provided fire coverage for much of the west coast it was so effective at combating fires that a small crew was all that was necessary to achieve the mission. This is why the base is relatively small.
Firefighters lived in the barracks and ate in the messhall. When the fire alarm sounded, they would run to the parachute loft, put on their jump suits, and get a safety check over by other crew members before boarding the plane. Under normal circumstances, the plane would be loaded and on the runway within five minutes after the alarm sounded. Fires in remote regions rarely had time to grow to any significant size because of this rapid response time.
The self guided tour takes you past the tarmac where the smokejumper planes were parked and through the administrative and crew residence areas of the base. It is recommended that you go around the loop in a clockwise direction starting with the smokejumper heritage tree.
Creating this tour route
The accessible tour route was created entirely by volunteers workers and donations from local residents and businesses.
The project started in 2010 by removing barriers to wheelchair traffic created by tree roots uplifting sections of the sidewalk. Some of these offsets were two to three inches high. These sections were isolated with cuts by a diamond saw, jack hammered into small chunks, and removed by wheelbarrow. The gaps were filled with concrete to create a smooth grade.
In 2011, a section of new sidewalk was constructed across a gravel driveway to create an accessible connection between two existing sidewalks. This connector was critical for creating the accessible loop route. One of the airport tenants used his backhoe to do the excavation work necessary to lower the sidewalk to the same level of the driveway. Volunteers set up forms and did the necessary finish work on the concrete.
Work was also done on construction of accessible slabs for some of the exhibits and modifications on one of the building had to be done to create a wider opening for wheelchair access.
Holes for the exhibit stands were drilled by a tractor from a local farm and exhibits were installed. All exhibit stands were donated by the Forest Service. Exhibit panels were developed by a retired Park Service and produced through a grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission.
A concrete slab was poured to create a wheelchair accessible parking site in 2012.
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