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As It Was: Army Reservists Build Centennial Year Stockade

In April 1959, the members of the 417th Engineering Brigade of the Army Reserves in Medford, Ore., built the first military stockade in 60 years.

Brig. Gen. William Prentice directed the construction, not built as a defense against attack or to confine animals, but rather as a welcome center during Oregon’s Centennial year.

The Centennial Commission and Siskiyou Pioneer Sites Foundation wanted the stockade to provide information about the state centennial to travelers entering Oregon from California on U.S. Route 99.

More than 70 local businesses donated the supplies, surveyed, and designed the stockade. Plywood peeler cores stood 10 feet high along the 150-foot-long hexagonal walls, with two towers on each side of the entrance. A small log building inside had a visitors’ center and a restroom in the rear.

Eighty reservists took four weekends to build the structure, the army using the experience for practicing maneuvers and setting up a field kitchen.

During the busy summer tourist season, Southern Oregon College students greeted stockade visitors.

Sources: “Siskiyou Summit Stockade” handout from the HQ CO—417th Engineer Brigade, US Army Reserve, Medford Oregon-May 1959 in SOHS Research Library Vertical File for Oregon Centennial, Medford, Ore.

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Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.