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Two views of Radar Station B-71
Photos from Redwood National Park, California, courtesy of James O'Barr

The Klamath River Radar Station B-71 in Redwood National Park, California, is a rare survivor of a World War II early-warning radar station, the first step toward the more sophisticated and pioneering early-warning radar defense network. Rather than using camouflage materials, the buildings of Radar Station B-71 were constructed to resemble farm buildings to disguise their true purpose. The station consists of three buildings: a power building disguised as a farmhouse, an operations building disguised as a barn and a functional wood frame two-stall privy or outhouse, now a partially collapsed ruin. The two major buildings were constructed for the Army by a private contractor specifically for the early warning aircraft station, and consist of block walls roughly two feet thick covered with wood-framed gable roofs with wood shingle finish.


[photo] Power Supply Building, Radar Station B-71
Photos from Redwood National Park, California, courtesy of James O'Barr

As a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor and in the Aleutian Islands, the necessity of guarding American coastlands became more urgent on the Pacific Coast than on the Atlantic. The threat was further demonstrated when a Japanese submarine shelled an oil refinery north of Santa Barbara, California, on February 23, 1942. Another Japanese submarine shelled Esteven Point in British Columbia, Canada, on June 20, 1942, and again at Fort Stevens, Washington, on July 21, 1942. On September 9, 1942, a Japanese submarine-launched aircraft dropped incendiary bombs on Oregon forests roughly 40 miles north of the Klamath River. The radar station south of the Klamath River, in what is now Redwood National Park, was built in late 1942 and early 1943 as the northernmost California station in a network of 72 proposed stations, 65 of which were actually built, stretching from the Canadian border into Mexico. The Klamath station was designated by memorandum dated November 6, 1942, from the Office of the Commanding General, IV Fighter Command, as Station B-71, named "Trinidad." It was also referred to as the "Klamath River" station.

Operations Building, Radar Station B-71
Photos from Redwood National Park, California, courtesy of James O'Barr

The station was manned by members of the Army Air Corps quartered in barracks near the town of Klamath. One day's operation of the station required a crew of about 35 men to cover the 24 hours in shifts. The station reported by direct telephone to an Aircraft Warning Service Filter Office in Berkeley, California. As the threat of Japanese attack waned towards the end of World War II, the coastal early radar stations began to be phased out. But with the need for early-warning radar decreasing, the need for air-sea rescue radar increased, and effective July 1, 1944, the Klamath station was converted to emergency rescue service, with the SCR-271 radar replaced with the RC-150 IFF equipment. Station B-71 was thus one of only 22 radar stations on the Pacific Coast, which remained operational until the end of World War II. Station B-71 was abandoned and reverted to private ownership after the war, until the National Park Service acquired it with the creation of Redwood National Park.

Located in Redwood National Park in Northern California, Radar Station B-71 is located on Coastal Dr., just south of the mouth of Klamath River. From the south, take Newton B. Drury Scenic Pkwy. to Coastal Dr. (trailers and motor homes not permitted). A trail leads to the station from the road, although the buildings are not open. The park headquarters is located at Second and K sts. in Crescent City. Visit the park's website or call 707-464-6101 ext. 5064 for further information.

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