Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:

Northeastern California

© 2002, © 2014 by Paul Freeman. Revised 5/9/14.

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Alturas #2 Airport / Devil's Garden Airport (revised 12/18/11) - Chico Aux AAF #3 / Deer Creek Ranch Airport (revised 12/18/11)

Foresthill Airport (added 6/11/05) - Grass Valley Airport / Gilmore Airport (revised 4/15/13)

Nevada City Airport (revised 5/9/14) - Oroville Aux AAF #5 (revised 12/22/13)

Truckee Intermediate Field (revised 5/22/10) - Westwood Airport (2nd location) (revised 12/18/11)

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Westwood Airport (2nd location), Westwood, CA

40.31 North / 121.04 West (Northwest of San Francisco, CA)

Westwood Airport, as depicted on the January 1948 Mt. Shasta Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

Photo of the airfield while in use has not been located.



Jonathan Westerling reported, “The modest community of Westwood, CA (population 2,000)

had an airport since the early days of aviation.”



An airport on the east side of town operated from at least 1929 through at least 1938.

However, there was no airport near Westwood

depicted on the November 1939 through October 1946 Mt. Shasta Sectional Charts (according to Chris Kennedy).



At some point between 1946-48 a newer field was constructed on the west side of town.

The earliest depiction which has been located of the Westwood Airport on the west side of the town

was on the January 1948 Mt. Shasta Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

It depicted Westwood as having a 3,900' unpaved runway.



The runway at Westwood was evidently somewhat shortened within the next few years,

as it was depicted as being only 3,100' on the 1948 Mt. Shasta Sectional Chart (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling).



The 1956 USGS topo map depicted “Westwood Airport” as having a single northeast/southwest runway.



The Westwood Airport may have been closed at some point between 1956-62,

as there was no airport at Westwood depicted on the 1962 Mt. Shasta Sectional Chart (according to Jonathan Westerling).



The Westwood Airport was depicted on the 1964 USGS topo map.



The Westwood Airport may have been reopened (with somewhat improved facilities) at some point between 1962-67,

as it was listed in the 1967 AOPA Airports Directory (according to Jonathan Westerling)

as having a 3,700' “seal coat” runway.



The last aeronautical chart depiction which has been located of the Westwood Airport

was on the 1969 Mt. Shasta Sectional Chart (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling).

It depicted Westwood as a public-use airport having a single 3,700' paved northeast/southwest runway.



Jonathan Westerling remarked, “The 1974 Flight Guide confirmed the airport as being unattended

with a hard surface Runway 3/21 as 3,700’.”



The Westwood Airport was still listed in the 1976 AOPA Airport Directory (according to Chris Kennedy).



Jonathan continued, “By 1978 however, the airfield was shortened then closed by the county.

The 1978 Pilot’s Guide to CA airfields lists Westwood’s Runway 3/21 being 3,160’

with the note 'AIRPORT CLOSED - Runway used for asphalt mixing'.”



Jonathan continued, “The airport was not listed in subsequent directories.”



By the time of the 1981 Mt. Shasta Sectional Chart (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling),

Westwood was depicted as an abandoned airfield.



The 1989 USGS topo map depicted a single northeast/southwest runway,

labeled simply as “Landing Strip”.



The 1995 USGS topo map depicted “Westwood Airport” as having a single northeast/southwest runway.



A December 30, 2005 USGS aerial view looking northeast at Westwood Airport showed the field as remaining intact,

but without any obvious signs of recent use.



A 2007 photo by Jonathan Westerling looking north along Westwood's abandoned Runway 3.

Jonathan observed, “The pavement on the left is in relatively good condition.

Older pavement on the right side of the photo is more broken up.

Each swath of pavement is about 50' wide.”



A 2007 photo by Jonathan Westerling, “An odd item on the location of the Westwood airfield,

is this X – normally placed ON the runway to symbolize its closure.

Here, however the X’s are painted on a separate bit of pavement just off the north side of the runway at each end.

There’s a good chance that with the larger Chester Airport just 8 miles west,

Lassen County did not perceive much value from maintaining an airstrip in Westwood,

though the airfield remains in good condition to this day.

Perhaps with the recent development of many vacation homes & golf courses on the Almanor Peninsula,

there will be a renewed interest in reviving a small local airfield here.”



The Westwood Airport is located southeast of the intersection of Routes 36 & 147.



Thanks to Jonathan Westerling for pointing out this airfield.

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Chico Auxiliary Army Airfield #3 / Deer Creek Ranch Airport (CA60), Vina, CA

39.95 North / 121.99 West (Northwest of San Francisco, CA)

A January 13, 1943 U.S. Army aerial view looking north at the Chico Aux AAF #3 (from the National Archives, via Brian Rehwinkel).



This airfield was evidently built during WW2 as one of 5 satellite airfields used by Chico Army Airfield (11 miles to the southeast),

which was used to train fighter & bomber pilots.

The date of construction of this airfield is unknown.

It is presumed that it was not a pre-WW2 civilian airport,

but rather was built by the military during the Second World War.

Chico AAF itself was used starting in 1942.



The earliest depiction which has been located of Chico Aux AAF #3

was a January 13, 1943 U.S. Army aerial view looking north (from the National Archives, via Brian Rehwinkel).

A total of 13 single-engine aircraft were seen on the field.

It depicted the field as consisting of a rectangular paved “landing mat”.

The rectangular shape of the mats permitted aircraft to land in any direction,

eliminating the possibility of a crosswind.



A closeup from the January 13, 1943 U.S. Army aerial view (from the National Archives, via Brian Rehwinkel),

showing a total of 13 unidentified single-engine aircraft parked on the center of Chico Aux AAF #3.



The 1944 USGS topo map (courtesy of Chris Kennedy) depicted the square landing mat, labeled as "US Auxiliary Airfield".



Strangely, Chico Aux AAF #3 was not depicted at all on the Sacramento Sectional Chart from 1943, 1944, 1948, or 1949.



The parent airfield, Chico AAF, was described as “Inactive” in the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock),

so military use of Chico Aux #3 had most likely ended by that point.



"Chico Aux #3" was depicted as a civil field on the March 1954 USAF Sacramento Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy),

and described as having a 3,000' hard-surface runway.



Chico Aux #3 was still depicted on the 1957 Sacramento Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



David Anderson recalled, “I have been on the actual surface of Chico Aux #3 many times,

as a portion of it was utilized as a dragstrip during the time period 1963-66.

Bob Foor obtained permission to operate a drag strip which was called Vina Raceway

from either the owner of the land or the County Board of Supervisors.

Mike Pelak ran the operation.

The asphalt surface was deteriorating, as no maintenance had been done since it was built apparently during WWII,

but portions of it were good enough to use for racing purposes.

Metal guard rails were installed like you would find at the side of roads back in the 1970s.

They were probably removed as part of the demise of the track operation.

The strip utilized an area about in the middle of the expanse of asphalt, running North to South.”



The 1969 USGS topo map depicted the 3,100' square landing mat, labeled as "US Auxiliary Airfield",



The 1980 USGS topo map also still depicted the landing mat, labeled as "US Auxiliary Airfield".



The 1998 USGS aerial photo showed that 2 small buildings (presumably of post-WW2 civilian construction) were on the northeast corner of the landing mat.

No trace was perceptible of the 1960s drag racing use of the landing mat.



It was still listed in the 2003 Airport Facility Directory as a private airfield, the Deer Creek Ranch Airport,

although it is not depicted at all on the 2003 Sectional Chart.

According to the 2003 Airport/Facility Directory,

one single-engine airplane is based at the field.

 

The "Vina Mat" is listed as a reporting point on approach charts for Chico Airport, according to Don Howell.



The August 29, 2006 USGS aerial photo showed the field remained in the same condition,

with the landing mat remaining intact, and 2 small buildings on the northeast corner.

 

A 2007 panoramic shot of the Vina landing mat by Jonathan Westerling, showing the 2 buildings on the mat.

Jonathan reported, “From a distance it looks like the asphalt is untouched

and has some piles of farming debris & a lot of grass growing up from the cracks in it.

Calls to the number listed in the FAA airport directory came up as a wrong number.

I understand that the owner of the parcel used to be a pilot & would fly in on occasion,

but he’s getting on in age and doesn’t do that any more.

I'm not sure what will happen to this, one of the last intact WWII landing mats in the USA when he decides to sell his land.”



The site of the airfield is located southeast of the intersection of Reed Orchard Road & Leininger Road,

three miles east of the town of Vina.

 

Thanks to Ken Couche for pointing out this airfield.

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Truckee Intermediate Field, Truckee, CA

39.36 North / 120.13 West (Northeast of Sacramento, CA)

Truckee Intermediate Field, as depicted on the 1939 Sacramento Sectional Chart (courtesy of Dann Shively).



The original airport for the town of Truckee was located to the northeast of the town.

Truckee Intermediate Field was constructed as one of the Department of Commerce's network of Intermediate Fields,

which were established for the emergency use of commercial aircraft flying along airways between major cities.



The date of construction of the Truckee Intermediate Field has not been determined.

The earliest reference to the field which has been located

was in The Airport Directory Company's 1933 Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

It described Truckee as the Department of Commerce's Site 16B along the San Francisco – Salt Lake Airway.

The field was said to consist of an 113 acre, decomposed rock field,

containing 2 runways in an L-shape, measuring 2,858' & 2,575'.

The field was illuminated, but offered no services.



The Airport Directory Company's 1938 Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

also described Truckee as the Department of Commerce's Site 16B along the San Francisco – Salt Lake Airway.

The field was said to have 3 runways, with the longest bing the 3,400' northeast/southwest strip.

A shed was said to be marked with “16B SF-SL” on its roof.

The field was illuminated, but offered no services.



The earliest depiction of the Truckee Field which has been located

was on the 1939 Sacramento Sectional Chart (courtesy of Dann Shively).

It depicted Truckee as Site 16B.



The 1940 USGS topo map (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted the outline of the airfield, but it was labeled simply as “Airport”.



The April 1942 6M Regional Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted Truckee as Site 16B.



The only photo which has been located of the Truckee Intermediate Field

was an 8/11/43 aerial view looking east from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).

It depicted Truckee as an L-shaped unpaved area.



The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described Truckee Intermediate Field

as a 116 acre L-shaped property containing a sand & gravel all-way field, measuring 3,400' northeast/southwest.

The field was said to have a single 50' x 36' wood hangar,

to be owned by private interests, and operated by the Civil Aeronautics Administration.



The March 1954 Sacramento Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted “Truckee (CAA)” as having a 3,400' unpaved runway.



The last depiction which has been located of the Truckee Airport

was on the 1955 USGS topo map (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



Truckee Intermediate Field was evidently abandoned at some point between 1954-57,

as it was no longer depicted at all on the September 1957 Sacramento Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).

It was replaced by the Truckee-Tahoe Airport, a mile to the south.



As seen in a circa 2001-2005 USGS aerial photo, the outline of the Truckee Intermediate Field remained intact, more than 40 years after being abandoned.

There was no sign of any remains of any buildings at the airfield.



A 2005 photo by Dann Shively, looking southeast along the site of the former Truckee Intermediate Field.

Dann reported: “I couldn't find anyone at the current [Truckee] Airport who knew anything about pictures of the original site.

So I ventured out to see what it looked like on the ground.

Aerial photographs in two dimension can be misleading.

From the air the whole area looks pretty flat.

But I found out the whole 'Airport Flats' area is actually a large plateau area above the river & old road nearby.

I completely missed the turnoff and was on my way to Reno before realizing I'd probably missed it.

So back onto westbound Interstate 80 I went & took a turnoff that looked like it might lead me there.

After turning under the freeway I came to Old Truckee Airport Road.

Unfortunately it became this horrible dirt & rock road after only a half mile.

The road was horrible. I should have had a Jeep or a motorcycle... not a Toyota Celica.

I proceeded very slowly looking for any trace of anything.

Although, from the air you can make out the old runways,

from the ground there is nothing but three-foot-tall sagebrush as far as the eye can see.

And I wasn't about to walk through it!

I can't communicate enough how desolate it is out there.

I did notice some survey stakes & ribbons so maybe someone is planning something.

Otherwise all it's home to now are rabbits & snakes.”



A 2005 photo by Dann Shively of a sign for “Old Truckee Airport Road”.

Dann reported, “It's a newer sign off I-80 to the west of the airport site where there's a private golf course community.”



Unfortunately, Chris Kennedy reported “The Truckee Town Council on May 4, 2006

voted to change the name of 'Old Truckee Airport Road' to 'Overland Trail'.

One more piece of airport history lost.”



The site of Truckee Intermediate Field is located at the eastern terminus of Overland Trail,

southeast of Interstate 80.

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Foresthill Airport, Foresthill, CA

39.02 North / 120.84 West (Northeast of Sacramento, CA)

The Foresthill Airport, as depicted on the 1973 USGS topo map.

Photo of the airfield while in use has not been located.



The date of construction of the Foresthill Airport has not been determined.

It was not depicted at all on the 1961 Sectional Chart (according to Dann Shively),

listed in the 1963 AOPA Airport Directory (according to Chris Kennedy),

or depicted on the June 1966 Sacramento Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).

The earliest depiction of the airfield which has been located was on the 1973 USGS topo map.

It depicted a single 2,300' runway, labeled simply as "Landing Strip".



It was also depicted the same way on the 1977 USGS topo map.



No airfield at this location was depicted on the November 1976 San Francisco Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy),

or listed in the 1980 or 1982 AOPA Airports USA Directory (according to Chris Kennedy).



Dann Shively reported, “Foresthill is a tiny community in the mountains about 40 miles northeast of Sacramento.

There were several sawmills operating in the area for years.

One of these had several owners, the last of which was Georgia Pacific.

On the west side of the property was an unpaved airstrip.

It was mostly used for company aircraft.

But it was also used as an emergency field for local med-evac flights.

I landed there a couple of times back in the 1970's & 1980's

in connection with news stories we were doing in the area.

I had no problem landing a Cessna Cardinal there and the company's twin-engine planes landed there regularly.

The runway was certainly long & wide enough for that, even with the trees so close.”



The Foresthill Airport was presumably closed at some point before 1984,

as it was not depicted at all on the 1984 Sectional Chart (according to Dann Shively).



According to Dann Shively, “The sawmill closed in 1993.

Possibly the strip went unused for years before that.”



As seen in the 1998 USGS aerial photo, the runway at Foresthill remained intact, but showed no sign of active use,



According to Dann Shively, “After about 10 years of inactivity [in 2003], the mill property started to be developed.

Much of it is home to the new Foresthill High School, some of which is still under construction.

There are plans to use some of the property for commercial development as well.”



A 2005 aerial photo by Dann Shively, looking northwest along the Foresthill runway, with the former sawmills on the right.

Dan reported, “The main layout of the airstrip is still intact, running northwest/southeast.

I think the trees right on the edge on the west side of the strip have grown there in recent years.

There were always trees on the west side but they weren't THAT close.

You can see in the aerial shots the trees right beside the strip on both sides are about the same age.

The ones slightly to the west are bigger.

There was more room when the strip was being used.

You can also see a delineation in the row of trees on the west side.

Maybe those trees were purposely planted to keep people from landing there?”

 

A 2005 photo by Dann Shively, looking northwest along the abandoned Foresthill runway.

Dan reported, “After so many years of inactivity the surface is a bit rough; but not as bad as you'd think.

It looks as though a few passes with some heavy equipment would make it usable again,

except, of course, for some of those trees.

There were always high trees on the west side but the ones on the east side weren't there when it was in operation.

I don't know if there are any plans to ever use the airstrip again although in the current climate I would doubt it.”



Foresthill Airport is located northwest of the intersection of Foresthill Divide Road & Sunset Drive.

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Alturas #2 Airport / Devil's Garden Airport, Alturas, CA

41.52 North / 120.67 West (Northeast of Sacramento, CA)

Alturas Municipal Airport (New)”, as depicted in the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).

Photo of the airfield while in use has not been located.



According to the California Department of Forestry (courtesy of Chris Kennedy),

in the spring of 1942 the Civil Aeronautics Administration began formal surveys of this site

with plans to construct an airfield to accommodate both commercial & military aircraft.

No airfield at the location was yet depicted on the April 1944 Mt. Shasta Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).

Construction & paving of the 6,250' runway did not begin, however, until late in 1944.

 

Although the California Department of Forestry's history of the site

states that the airport project was "abandoned in 1945", that is obviously incorrect,

as it was depicted as an active airfield on numerous aeronautical charts over the next 2 decades.



The earliest depiction of the airfield which has been located

was in the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).

It described the “Alturas Municipal Airport (New)” as a 4,000 acre (!) property

containing a single 6,250' concrete northwest/southeast runway.

The diagram depicted a ramp on the west side, but no buildings were depicted or described in the listing.

The field was said to be owned by the City of Alturas.



The earliest aeronautical chart depiction of the airfield which has been located

was on the October 1946 Mt. Shasta Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

It depicted this field as an auxiliary airfield, labeled simply as "Alturas",

along with the original Alturas Municipal Airport, labeled "Alturas #1", a few miles to the southeast.

 

The November 1948 Mt. Shasta Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted this field as "Alturas (New)",

and described the field as having a 6,300' hard-surface runway.



The September 1954 USAF Mt. Shasta Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

labeled the field once again simply as "Alturas".

 

In 1960 the U.S. Forest Service proposed upgrading the airport to serve as an air base to fight fires.

Two former Navy torpedo bombers (modified for firefighting) were permanently based at the airport.

During the height of the fire season, as many as six aircraft with crews remained on alert at the airfield,

and it became a well-known landing spot for many aviators.



The 1962 USGS topo map depicted the “Devils Garden Airport (USFS)”.



The December 1963 USAF Crater Lake Operational Navigation Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

labeled the field as "Alturas #2".

 

At some point between 1963-66, the field was renamed "Devil's Garden",

as that is how it was labeled on the May 1966 Mt. Shasta Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

The remarks in the Aerodromes table were: "Closed July-Oct. Contact Modoc Co. Sheriff at Alturas prior to use."



Stan Fitzgerald recalled, “I retired from the US Forest Service where I fought forest fires for over 35 years.

From 1966-69 I was stationed at Alturas.

One of my duties was to take care of the contract for the airtanker at Devils Garden Airport.

At the time the aircraft used was an F7F [Grumman Tigercat].

I flew in & out of Devils Garden airport many times doing fire reconnaisance.

The Forest Service did not drop water from their airtankers.

They dropped fire retardant, which at that time was Borate.”

 

The 1967 AOPA Directory (according to Chris Kennedy) described Devil's Garden Airport

as having a single 6,250' "asphaltic concrete" Runway 12/30.

It was listed as being operated by the U. S. Forest Service,

and the remarks said, "CAUTION: Airport closed to public during fire season - June - Oct."

 

According to the California Department of Forestry,

the Devil's Garden Airport was shut down (for reasons unknown) in 1968.

 

However, "Devil's Garden" was still depicted as an active airfield

on the January 1969 Crater Lake World Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

 

Devil's Garden Airport was definitely closed by 1972,

as it was no longer listed among active airfields in the 1972 Flight Guide (according to Chris Kennedy).

 

Even though it had reportedly been abandoned for 13 years,

the Devil's Garden Airport was still depicted on the 1981 USGS topo map. 

 

Almost 20 years after the airport was abandoned, the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection

surveyed the property as a potential location for a camp for the California Conservation Corps,

which operates work camps for low security prison inmates.

The Devil's Garden Conservation Camp was opened in 1988.

 

As seen in the 1998 USGS aerial photo,

the former paved runway still remains in fairly decent condition, only somewhat deteriorated.

It is not known if any of the buildings along the west side of the former runway

were original airfield buildings.

 

The site of Devil's Garden Airport is located one mile northwest of the intersection

of Crowder Flat Road & Airport Road, appropriately enough.

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Nevada City Airport, Nevada City, CA

39.28 North / 121.03 West (Northeast of Sacramento, CA)

Nevada City Airport, as depicted on the 1939 Sacramento Sectional Chart (courtesy of Dann Shively).

Photo of the airfield while in use has not been located.

 

The original airport for the town of Nevada City was located approximately one mile northwest of the town.

 

The date of construction of the field has not been determined.

It was evidently built at some point between 1934-37,

as it was not listed among active airfields in the 1934 Department of Commerce Airport Directory (according to Chris Kennedy).

The earliest reference to the Nevada City Airport which has been located

was in The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo).

It described Nevada City as an auxiliary airfield located one mile northwest of the town,

having 2 runways in a cross shape, with the longest being a 3,000' northeast/southwest strip.



The earliest depiction of the Nevada City Airport which has been located

was on the 1939 Sacramento Sectional Chart (courtesy of Dann Shively).

It depicted Nevada City as a commercial/municipal airport.



The 1943 Sacramento Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted Nevada City as a commercial/municipal airport.



The 1948 USGS topo map depicted the “Nevada City Airport” as having 2 runways,

with 5 small buildings adjacent to the south side, and a “Historic Monument” on the north side.



According to an article entitled “Nevada City's Old Airport – What Now” in the 12/21/81 The Independent (courtesy of Greg Archbald),

the airport became inactive in 1961 after a fire consumed the hangars.

It "was officially relegated to the status of inactive airport" in 1966.



However, Nevada City Airport continued to be depicted as an active airport in official documents for several more years.



Nevada City was still depicted as a public-use airport on the 1967 Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss),

and described as having a 2,500' unpaved runway.



The airfield layout of Nevada City Airport, from a 1968 airport directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



At some point between 1968-70, the status of Nevada City Airport apparently changed to a private field,

as that is how it was depicted as an active airfield on the 1970 Sacramento Sectional Chart (courtesy of Dann Shively).

It was described as having a 2,500' unpaved runway.



Nevada City Airport was finally closed (for reasons unknown) at some point between 1970-77,

as it was no longer listed among active airfields in the 1977 Pilot's Guide to CA Airports (according to Chris Kennedy).



An undated aerial view by Bob Lickter of Nevada City Airport from a 1981 article (courtesy of Greg Archbald).



The 1993 USGS topo map depicted 2 runways, labeled simply as “Landing Strips”.



The 1995 USGS topo map still depicted the “Nevada City Airport”,

with a clearing of the 2 former runways, along with a “Historical Monument”.



As seen in the 1998 USGS aerial photo,

the outline of the northeast/southwest & northwest/southeast runways were still somewhat apparent,

although trees had taken over the southwestern half of the primary runway.



A 2003 photo by Dann Shively of the northeast end of the primary runway at Nevada City.

Dann reported, “I don't think it was ever paved. There were 2 runways.

One running roughly northeast/southwest; the other running roughly southeast/northwest.

The site is now surrounded by pine trees.

There is a motocross track on the north/south runway where it intersects with the other runway.

It appears pine trees were planted long ago on the south portion of the north/south runway south of the motocross course.

No buildings or markings remain from the airport.”



A 2003 photo by Dann Shively of the motocross track [since removed] which occupied the middle of the former runway of the Nevada City Airport.



A 2003 photo by Dann Shively of trees over the southwest end of the primary runway at Nevada City.



A 2003 photo by Dann Shively of the northwest end of the shorter runway at Nevada City.



A 5/8/14 photo by Greg Archbald at the site of Nevada City Airport, of “the surface of the east end of the main runway.

While most of the remaining open runway area is dirt, there is some old asphalt pavement at this end.

Perhaps it was a reinforced runway apron in the area where most planes touched down.

There is no longer a motocross track on the field or anywhere else on the old airport property.

The field is now mostly flat dirt except a few places where the city or a related agency has piled materials

such as dirt or broken pavement from street work or slash from trimmed trees.”



A 5/8/14 photo by Greg Archbald at the site of Nevada City Airport.

Greg remarked, “There were hangars & I think I found what might be the cement floor of an old hangar, or at least a pad of some kind (for example a refueling area).

The location matches where the 1948 USGS topo map showed the hangars. The cement pad is at the east end of that row of hangars.”



The site of the Nevada City Airport is located on the western terminus of Airport Road,

appropriately enough.

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Grass Valley Airport / Gilmore Airport, Grass Valley, CA

39.22 North / 121.07 West (Northeast of Sacramento, CA)

A painting by George Mathis entitled “Gilmore Airport 1908” (courtesy of Judy Peterson).

Photo of the airfield while in use has not been located.



Dann Shively contributed the following about Grass Valley Airport:

"The original Grass Valley Airport was located just west of the downtown area on the Rough & Ready Highway.

Believe it or not this area was used as an airfield from before 1900.

There was an inventor in Grass Valley named Lyman Gilmore who was interested

in flight and experimented with airplanes & gliders around the turn of the century.

Some claim he beat the Wright Brothers with powered flight but there's no definite proof.

Eventually that site developed into Grass Valley's airport."



The date of construction of Gilmore / Grass Valley Airport has not been determined.

The earliest depiction which has been located of the field

was a painting by George Mathis entitled “Gilmore Airport 1908” (courtesy of Judy Peterson).

Judy Peterson reported, “I purchased this signed lithograph at a local Goodwill store.

It is dated 1908, & the airplanes depicted are quite primitive in design.

I cannot, obviously, vouch for its accuracy, but from a historic standpoint it seems relatively believable.

George Mathis was born in 1909, so he may have actually seen the airfield at some point in his early life.”



Grass Valley Airport, as depicted on the 1929 "Rand McNally Standard Map of CA With Air Trails" (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



The 1929 "Airplane Landing Fields of the Pacific West" (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

described Gilmore Field as being operated by Lyman Gilmore.

It was said to have 2 graded runways (with the longest being a 2,100' east/west strip),

and a hangar marked "Gilmore Field" & "Grass Valley" was said to be located on the south side of the field.



The 1939 Sacramento Sectional Chart (courtesy of Dann Shively)

depicted Grass Valley as a commercial/municipal airport.

 

Grass Valley Airport may have been temporarily closed at some point between 1939-43,

(due to wartime security concerns, like many other small civil airports during WW2),

as it was not depicted on the 1943 Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

 

Grass Valley Airport had apparently reopened at some point between 1943-44,

as it was depicted as a commercial airport on the 1944 Sacramento Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



The most detailed depiction which has been located of this airfield was on the 1949 USGS topo map,

which was also the only depiction to be located which labeled the field as “Gilmore Airport”.

It depicted the field as having a single northwest/southeast runway, with 2 small buildings along the northeast side.



The 1949 Sacramento Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

described Grass Valley as having an 1,800' unpaved runway.

 

Grass Valley Airport was still depicted on the March 1954 USAF Sacramento Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

 

At some point between 1954-57, the Grass Valley Airport was closed

and the airport moved to the east side of town where it remains as Nevada County Airport.

Grass Valley Airport was no longer depicted on the 1957 Sacramento Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

 

A 2003 photo by Dann Shively of the memorial plaque at the Lyman Gilmore Middle School.

 

In 1972, a historic plaque was dedicated at the site of the former "Gilmore Flying Field".

 

As seen in the 1998 USGS aerial photo,

the Lyman Gilmore Middle School had been built on the site of the former Grass Valley Airport,

and not a trace of the former airport still remained.

 

A 2003 photo by Dann Shively of Lyman Gilmore, as pictured on the mural at the school bearing his name.

 

A 2003 photo by Dann Shively of the label of the Lyman Gilmore mural.

 

Dann Shively reported in 2003 that the Lyman Gilmore Middle School

has both a historic plaque & a large mural of Gilmore painted on the side of one of the school buildings.

Nothing else remains of the airport.

 

The site of the Grass Valley Airport is located south of the intersection of West Main Street & Gilmore Way.

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Oroville Auxiliary Army Airfield #5, Oroville, CA

39.58 North / 121.64 West (North of Sacramento, CA)

An October 14, 1942 AAF aerial view of Chico AAF / Oroville Auxiliary A5 (from the National Archives, courtesy of Brian Rehwinkel).



According to the Army Corps of Engineers, Oroville Auxiliary Field #5 was used during WW2

as one of the 5 auxiliary airfields which supported Chico Army Air Field (to the east),

which was used to train fighter & bomber pilots.

The date of establishment of Oroville Aux AAF #5 has not been determined,

but other Chico Auxiliary Airfields were established in 1942.



The earliest depiction which has been located of Chico AAF / Oroville Auxiliary A5

was an October 14, 1942 AAF aerial view (from the National Archives, courtesy of Brian Rehwinkel).

It depicted the Oroville airfield as consisting of a paved rectangular landing mat.

The rectangular shape of the mat permitted aircraft to land in any direction,

eliminating the possibility of a crosswind.

A small building (water tower?) sat in the center of the mat.



In addition to its use an airfield, the site was used as a practice precision bombing range

and dive-bombing & skip-bombing training range.



In addition to the airfield, improvements to the site included a building, latrine, and fencing.



In 1944, the federal government acquired fee title to 360 acres of land by four Declarations of Taking.



On October 1, 1944, the site was classified by the U.S. Government as a surplus supply location.



The airfield was not depicted at all on the 1944 USGS topo map.



On June 18, 1945, the site was reestablished as a landing field.



It was again reclassified as a surplus supply location on November 1, 1946.

Two Contamination Certificates certified the site was inspected & decontaminated on September 4, 1946.

All bombs were removed from the field & those with spotting charges were decontaminated.



On February 28, 1947, 360 acres were transferred to the War Assets Administration.



According to Tom Beamer, "My research has shown that the 3000' square landing mats (Oroville)

were used by USAAF Basic (BT-13/15) Schools for takeoff & landing practice,

mostly in the Western Region.

Close study will reveal interesting regional differences in USAAF airfield

layout due to each Corps of Engineers District solving the same problem differently."

 

Nothing was depicted at the location on the 1943 & 1949 Sacramento Sectional Charts (according to Chris Kennedy)

or the 1969 & 1980 USGS topo maps.



John Sparks, who was born & raised in Oroville, reported that the landing mat

"was used by a local model airplane club from the late 1980s until the late 1990s.

I contacted an individual in Chico and he says the field is not in use anymore

due to a conflict with the property owner.

I am assuming the small clearing [visible on the above aerial photo]

is the same clearing used by the model aircraft club."



As of the 1990s, the Butte County Assessors records indicated that the land was owned by local rancher.



As depicted on the 1998 USGS aerial photo,

the airfield consisted of a 3,100' square landing mat.



A 2006 aerial view by Dann Shively, showing the edge (almost indistinguishable) of the Oroville landing mat.

Dann observed, “You can make out straight lines & possibly the edge of the mat.””



Dann Shively flew over the former Oroville Landing Mat in 2006.

He reported, “You wouldn't believe how hard it was to find at low level.

It doesn't look like the other mats I've encountered

and it wasn't until I was right over it did I realize it was there!

It blends in with the surrounding countryside; it's all green.

I don't know if it was plowed up or if the pavement is so old grass is growing up through it.”



A 2006 aerial view by Dann Shively, showing the symbol (a former bombing target?)

which remains visible at the center of the Oroville landing mat.

Dann observed, “It's pretty big & certainly is not random.

It appears to be made from carefully placed rocks. Yet another mystery.”



A June 2013 aerial view by Gonzalo (Peewee) Curiel of the target circle in the center of the Oroville landing mat.



A 12/21/13 aerial view by Gonzalo (Peewee) Curiel looking northeast at the Oroville landing mat.



The site of Oroville Aux AAF #5 is located west of the intersection of Route 70 & Route 149,

5 miles northwest of Oroville, CA.

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