OTE - Oregon Travel Experience

Smokejumper Jeffrey Pine

Posted on: November 27th, 2012 by Annie Von Domitz in Heritage Tree Details | No Comments

This Jeffrey pine tree is located at the site of the historic Siskiyou Smokejumper Base at the Illinois Valley Airport in Cave Junction.  The Siskiyou Smokejumper Base was one of four such bases in the US built in the early 1940’s.  The base was established following an incendiary bomb-drop by the Japanese in Brookings, Oregon in 1942.  Forest fires required significant manpower and equipment to control, and many thought the Japanese may have intended to wage war on American soil by starting fires and distracting military personnel.  During the cold war era in the 1950’s, the base was upgraded.  New buildings were constructed and the number of  fire-fighting crews bolstered. Many of the trees on the base were removed, but this Jeffrey pine was spared- most likely to serve as a telephone pole.  Bedrock in the region is extremely hard and digging post holes difficult.  Since the tree was well positioned near the smokejumper buildings, it made good utilitarian sense.  The insulators are still attached to the tree today.  Firefighters were transported by aircraft to remote wilderness fires and parachuted into otherwise inaccessible areas.  Crews consisted of two to four jumpers who could extinguish a fire while it was still small and easy to contain.  The smokejumper method prevented lightening strike fires from blazing out of control or committing hundreds of firefighters, heavy equipment and thousands of dollars in resources.

Height:  approx.   50 feet
Circumference:  6 feet
Average Crown Spread: 30 feet
Approximate Age:  approx.  150 years
Dedication ceremony: June 2012

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