NEAR TILLAMOOK, Ore. - It's been 79 years since a steel cable dragging a Douglas fir sparked a massive wildfire that would end up burning 311,000 acres of land in the coast range near Tillamook.
It was the first in a series of wildfires that scorched a total of 355,000 acres from 1933 to 1951 in what became known as the Tillamook Burn.
Thanks to a massive conservation effort, 72 million seedlings were planted following the wildfires and over time the barren wasteland was transformed into the forest we see today.
It's at the Tillamook Forest Center along Highway 6 that you'll find the story of the Tillamook Burn - the hard work that went in to replanting the forest, the technology that was developed on the fly to remove the fallen timber, the gear crews used and the stories from those who remember it all.
"So much in our world today is about human's negative impact on the Earth," said Larry Berrin, the center's director. "Finally, we can tell a story where we had a positive impact on the Earth. And I think that's a part of our message, but we don't ignore the fact that nature played a role and there was the amazing, rejuvenating powers of the Northwest forest."
The center is now open for the season and the folks who run it hope you'll not only stop by to view the exhibits on the Tillamook Burn but for everything else the center offers.
"There's a lot to be learned and there's a lot of fun to be had out here - inspiration and discovery," said Chris Friend, the center's assistant director.
Tens of thousands of people visit the center every year but if you're one of the folks who have driven right on by while heading to and from the coast, here are 10 reasons to stop and take a look:
#1 - It's free
#2 - You can climb a fire lookout
#3 - They have a steam donkey
#4 - You can take a walk across a suspension bridge
#5 - It's a great pit stop on the way to the coast
#6 - They've got everything you ever wanted to know about the Tillamook Burn
#7 - You'll see, hear and smell the Tillamook Burn in the interactive theater
#8 - You can admire the Tillamook State Forest
#9 - You can go for a nice hike
#10 - You might just find a little peace
Photos courtesy of the Tillamook Forest Center.