Information from OSU Special Collections & Archives Historic Photos in Flickr Commons National Register of Historic Places
Tillamook Naval Air Station, Dirigible Hangers
Tillamook County, OR
The deactivated United States Naval Air Station at Tillamook Bay, Oregon, is located at the southerly end of an estuarine valley formed by the meeting of the Wilson and Trask rivers with the Pacific Ocean. The site is two and a half miles southeasterly of Tillamook, an historic dairying center and seat of Tillamook County.
The historic period of significance of the nominated area extends from 1942, when the Navy air station was commissioned, to 1949, when it was deactivated. The prime date is 1943, the year construction of the hangars under auspices of the U. S. Bureau of Yards and Docks was completed with remarkable speed by Sound Construction and Engineering Company of Seattle, Washington. Either hangar is 1,050 feet long, 296.5 feet wide, and 175.32 feet in height, including rooftop monitor. Pressure-treated Pacific Northwest lumber was used for the vast number of structural framing members with the object of conserving steel for the overseas war effort. The roof support system, consisting of nearly parabolic open-web truss arch ribs on reinforced concrete bents spaced at 20-foot intervals, tested building technology of the day and proved sound. In this context, the nominated features meet National Register Criterion C.
The dirigible hangars at Tillamook Bay are two of only ten such buildings built to similar specifications in the United States after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. Suddenly, after December 7, 1941, the nation's involvement in the Second World War was riveted to defense of its own shoreline. Of the six Second World War dirigible hangars on the West Coast, those at Tillamook Bay served as mooring and maintenance sites for two squadrons of the steerable, non-rigid lighter-than air craft which the U. S. Navy favored for patrol missions at the time. Blimps launched from Tillamook Bay patrolled the coastline from the California border to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Canadian border.
Dirigibles used by the United States military during the Second World War represented the ultimate refinement of steerable lighter-than-air craft.