Medford and Ashland, Oregon (March 24, 2017) — The April Windows in Time program, “Southern Oregon’s Smokejumpers: Their Base of Danger”, takes an historic flight back to the beginning of the nation’s first airborne firefighters. Guest speaker Paul Fattig, author and retired journalist, will speak about the history of smokejumpers in this area on Wednesday, April 5 at the Medford Branch Library, 205 South Central Avenue, and Wednesday, April 12, at the Ashland Branch Library, 410 Siskiyou Boulevard, from 12 noon – 1:00 p.m. at both locations.
The Siskiyou Smokejumper Base in Josephine County’s Illinois Valley was one of the four original aerial firefighter bases in the U.S. in 1943. Although the lion’s share of their deployments was in the West, the Siskiyou smokejumpers jumped fires from Alaska to Virginia. During the 39 summers it operated, the base would deploy smokejumpers on 1,445 fires for 5,390 jumps. That was roughly 142 deployments per year jumping on fires. Among those base’s smokejumpers were educators, medical doctors, attorneys, and even a priest and future astronaut.
The base was closed after the 1981 season and is now the home of the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum. Within it is the nation’s oldest smokejumper loft as well as an impressive collection of smokejumper memorabilia. The museum is open March 15 through November 15. There is no admission charge.
Paul Fattig wrote for more than a dozen newspapers from San Francisco to Anchorage. After more than 20 years as a columnist at the Mail Tribune, he retired three years ago to write books. His first book, Up Sterling Creek without a Paddle, will be in bookstores beginning on March 1. His second book, Madstone, will be published this spring. He is currently working on a book about the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base.
The monthly Windows in Time lunchtime lectures are offered free to the public on the first and second Wednesday throughout the year from 12 noon – 1:00 p.m. The talks are jointly sponsored by the Southern Oregon Historical Society and Jackson County Library Services. For more information, please call Jackson County Library Services at 541-774-6996 or visit jcls.org.