The Oregon Department of Forestry presents a multi-sensory documentary about the forest fires between 1933 and 1951

By Aaron Mesh
Willamette Week
June 11, 2024
Category: Forest History & Archives
Region: United States, US West

TILLAMOOK FOREST CENTER, Oregon — Remember the Columbia River Gorge on fire, burning almost 50,000 acres of wilderness? That fire was just one-seventh the size of the Tillamook Burn, four blazes sparked by logging equipment between 1933 and 1951 that consumed much of the old-growth forest in the Coast Range. The fire rages again every 30 minutes in the Tillamook Burn Theater, where the Oregon Department of Forestry presents a multisensory documentary on the inferno. As the sound of fire crackles and the cinema’s walls turn red, the room fills with the smell of burning trees (but only faintly; the theater’s machines have run out of artificial smoke scent 18 years after opening). The movie is the centerpiece of the Tillamook Forest Center, a gorgeous facility on the Wilson River, halfway between Portland and the coast, focused on how the timber industry burned down the forest and planted a new one. 

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