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Mitchell Recreation Area is a small picnic area near Blymarker, Oregonmarker, United Statesmarker. It is also known as Mitchell Monument. It is the only location in the continental U.S. where Americans were killed during World War II as a direct result of enemy action. The deaths were caused by a Japanesemarker balloon bomb. The site is maintained by the United States Forest Service and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

History

The Christian and Missionary Alliance church in Bly, Oregon.
On May 5, 1945, Reverend Archie Mitchell took his pregnant wife and five Sunday school children, from the Christian and Missionary Alliance church where he was minister, on a picnic and fishing trip. The group found the logging road they followed blocked, so they stopped next to Leonard Creek, eight miles (13 km) east of Bly near Gearhart Mountainmarker. While Mitchell was unloading the food, he heard one of the children say, "Look what I found!" His wife and the children ran to see what had been found. Moments later, there was an explosion. Mrs. Mitchell and all five children were killed instantly.

The children had found the remains of a Japanese balloon bomb, one of approximately 9,000 balloon bombs launched from Honshūmarker, Japanmarker between November 1944 and April 1945. The balloons drifted across the Pacific Oceanmarker to North America via the jet stream in about three days. The hydrogen-filled balloons were in diameter and carried five bombs, four incendiaries and one anti-personnel high explosive. It is believed that as many as 1,000 balloons may have reached the United States and Canadamarker. However, there were only 285 confirmed sightings on the west coast, and two balloons were later found in Michiganmarker. Except for Elyse (aka Elsie) Mitchell and the five children killed near Bly, the bombs caused no injuries.

The Mitchell Monument site was originally owned by Weyerhaeuser Corporation. In 1998, Weyerhaeuser donated land around the monument to the Fremont National Forest (now the Fremont-Winema National Forestsmarker). A small picnic area was developed around the monument.

Monument

Mitchell Monument was built by Weyerhaeuser in 1950. It is constructed of native stone and displays a bronze plaque with the names and ages of the victims of the balloon bomb explosion. It commemorates the "only place on the American continent where death resulted from enemy action during World War II". Weyerhaeuser donated the monument along with the land surrounding it to the Fremont National Forest in 1998. The monument site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on 20 February2003.

Recreation area

Mitchell Recreation Area, with a fence around the Mitchell Monument site.
Today, the Bly Ranger District maintains Mitchell Recreation Area as a day-use picnic area. It is adjacent to Leonard Creek and is sheltered by large ponderosa pines. In addition to the monument, the site offers fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing opportunities. The site is normally open from mid-May until the end of October.

See also



References

  1. Richard, Terry, "Oregon connection to World War II", The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, 5 April2007.
  2. National Register of Historic Places, "Mitchell Recreation Area", National Register Information System, National Park Service, 20 February2003.


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