Smoke Jumper's Park
Located on Main Street, this park houses two log sections. The first section is the butt of the Ribbon Tree that was on Hwy 21. It has a timeline of events pertinent to Idaho City history. The second log is an Engelmann Spruce from north of Lowman that died in the Pioneer Fire. The park has a dedication plaque to the time the Forest Service Smokejumper Unit was in Idaho City.
Smokejumpers were trained in the area after Idaho City was selected as a training location in 1954. Idaho City remained the host of the program until 1969, when it was relocated to Boise. Remote firefighters would receive supplies by parachute, but the idea of sending humans was considered too dangerous. At the end of the 1930’s several small tests were done by the Eagle Parachute Company with the Forest Service. These tests showed that a smoke jumper could safely land in forested rugged terrain. In 1940 the first seven men were selected as smoke jumpers, they were required to be between 21 and 25 and single.
As the program began training in the early 1940’s, the techniques developed were observed by military and later implemented into the paratrooper program. As World War 2 began the Smoke Jumper program faced difficulty in staffing. The Forest Service program became an alternate option for Conscientious Objectors during the draft fro WW2. During this time many of the smokejumpers were Mennonite or from the Brethren or Friends Church. After the conclusion of WW2, some US paratroopers were trained in firefighting to deploy as smokejumpers.
After the successes in the early 1940’s, the program was expanded. Initially thought to be too dangerous, the program provided effective fire control for remote fires. Today we rely heaving on smokejumpers throughout the world. The US typically maintains about 450 active smokejumpers presently, with over 5,000 having served in the program.