1918 Airmail Over the Siskiyous
Wednesday July 13, 2005
By Dawna Curler
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Airmail service is such a normal part of life today that we hardly give it a second thought. But early in the century it took some brave men and daring deeds to get the service going. In 1918 Army pilots made test flights around the country seeking feasible routes for regular airmail delivery. In December, Lieutenant A.F. Hogland [HAWG-lund] carried the first bag of mail between Sacramento, California, and Seattle, Washington.
According to Hogland's descriptions, the flight was grueling. "I was busy dodging peaks between Sacramento and Eugene....In crossing the Siskiyous, I had the worst time of my life. There was nothing but mountains and more mountains until I reached an altitude of nine thousand, five hundred feet. I found it pretty cold up there."
It took Hogland six hours and fifty-five minutes to reach Eugene, including a scheduled landing in Redding and a brief stop in Red Bluff after losing his bearings in a fog bank farther south. The aviator dealt with rain, snow and hail between Eugene and Seattle, and the return trip required two overnight stops due to weather and engine trouble.
West coast airmail service was still nearly eight years away, but Hogland's 1918 flight was a significant first step.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Dawna Curler, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org
Medford Mail Tribune December 6, 9, 10, 11, and12, 1918; Harris, William H. and Judith S. Levey, eds. The New Columbia Encyclopedia. New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1975; Alley, William. "Air Minded City, Commercial Aviation Comes to the Rogue Valley," Southern Oregon Heritage, Vol.3, No. 1, 1997, p. 27.