The Jefferson County Historical Society is offering another of its popular historical excursions.
On Saturday, June 8, there will be a hiking tour of the recently rediscovered World War II gunnery site on the Crooked River National Grassland property south of the Henderson Flat off-highway vehicle area, east of the North Unit Canal and northeast of the "Trail Crossing" basin.
The tour, which features the option of antique car transportation by the Model T Bums for those who would like it, will leave from the Old County Courthouse in Madras at 10 a.m. At 9:30 a.m., the renovated Old Courthouse will be open for inspection before the tour leaves.
Lunch after the tour will be provided. The cost per person is $45. For reservations and information, call Jim Carroll, at 541-325-3811, by Wednesday, June 5.
The gunnery site, which was first identified locally in an article written by Jerry Ramsey in the the spring 2018 issue of Sageland magazine, seems to have been constructed during WWII, possibly by U.S. Army engineers out of Camp Abbot, for the purpose of training soldiers for ground-to-air defense.
However, so far, no military records have been found documenting its construction and operation. Its main features consist of a massive equilateral triangle, 1,000 feet on a side, made of parallel earthen berms 12-15 feet high, with a double concrete track between the berms, and a firing line and ammunition depot about one-third mile to the northwest.
The hike will cover about 2 miles on mostly level brushy terrain, with some scrambling required on and around the berms. Hikers should bring cameras, sunglasses, and water. Because the site is on federal land, removal of artifacts and any other excavating is prohibited.
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