2015 Ford F-150: Oregon Road Trip Leg 2 — World War II Bombsite and the Oregon Coast
August 18, 2015
This particular Oregon road trip covered a lot of miles because I had to make a business-trip detour north to Tacoma in our 2015 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4x4 pickup. So I'm breaking the trip into tanks of gas to make things easier.
We arrived at my parents place near the long-deserted (but still on the map) town of Carpenterville, Oregon about 90 minutes after I refilled the tank in Klamath, California. Their place is six miles up Carpenterville road at an elevation of 1,600 feet. It's a slow winding road with a crazy driveway at the end, and every time we made the trek into town we dropped to sea level on the way out and climbed back up on the way home.
One of those trips into town included a side trip to a World War II bombsite memorial in a remote corner of the Siskiyou National Forest. No one was injured, but this site is interesting because it's the only place on the American mainland that was bombed by Japan.
Nobuo Fujita was a Warrant Flying Officer stationed aboard an I-25 long-range submarine, which was equipped with a compact airplane hangar, a compressed-air catapult and a crane to retrieve his single-engine float plane when it returned.
His mission was to drop two incendiary bombs in the mountains east of Brookings, Oregon, the idea being to create a huge forest fire and scare the American public. Only one of the two detonated, the other has never been found. That September day in 1942 happened to be a particularly damp one, and the lazy-looking fire that resulted was spotted by a lookout on nearby Mt. Emily. It was extinguished by a couple of men with hand tools fairly quickly once they made their way on foot through rough terrain to the site.
After Fujita flew low back through the coastal defenses, the waiting crew took about 15-20 minutes to break down the plane and stow it before the sub could submerge, which led to a very close call. The submarine was spotted by aircraft on routine patrol (word of the bombing had not yet got out) and it was damaged by a depth charge just after it submerged. The captain laid the craft on the bottom until the danger passed, and the crew was subsequently able to patch things up at sea and return to Japan for a refit.
A gravel road winds 15 miles up to a trailhead that's about three-quarters of a mile away from ground zero. Interpretive signs are positioned at a couple of points along the foot path, and the spot itself is clearly marked. It's worth the trip.
Fujita-san visited Brookings in 1962 and presented the town with his family's 400-year old samurai sword as a token of reconciliation. He later hosted exchange students from Brookings and visited the town three more times before he passed away in 1997. The sword is supposedly on display in the public library, but we didn't learn that until after we returned home. Next time.
After a few days I lit out for Washington, leaving my family at Mom and Dad's house. The most direct route includes a fair bit of Oregon 101, which is loaded with motorhomes and tourists travelling at a modest pace. Towns with one or two stoplights and 25-mph speed limits seem to be sprinkled every 25 miles or so. It's a very economical pace if you go with the flow.
After overnighting at the border town of Seaside, Oregon, I crossed the wide mouth of the Columbia River at Astoria, Oregon and filled up about 20 minutes later in Naselle, Washington, a whistle stop on my rather indirect path to Interstate 5 at Longview.
The F-150 had traveled 619 miles since its last stop, and it took 32.329 gallons to refill its massive 36-gallon tank. That worked out to 19.1 mpg, a tie for the best tank our truck has ever produced in some 16,214 miles in our care.
The switch to premium fuel did not seem to produce any benefits. By all rights it should have been better. At no time did my speed exceed 60 mph, and most of the trip went down at a processional 55 mph ? or less. But this tank did include three trips up and down from my parent's hilltop home, and we can't forget that interesting side trip we all took up the mountain in the Siskiyou to visit a remote and little-known World War II landmark.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 16,214 miles