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Opinion >  Letters

Riverside State Park mystery solved!

The photograph of Clark Gable training in a World War II gunnery turret (“How Spokane played a role in helping Clark Gable take on Hitler’s Luftwaffe,” Aug. 15, 2021) explains a peculiar structure still found today in Riverside State Park at the old Seven Mile Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp.

The structure is a double concrete track located near the northwest wall of the inner Seven Mile Canyon. The track has a peculiar J-shape, running several hundred yards, in some sections rising or tilting. The track seems made to run a vehicle with tires. The system of wooden struts between the concrete tracks must have supported a guide rail. Nearby is a concrete wall and berm, perhaps shielding operators.

I suspected an artillery piece ran on the tracks but I couldn’t understand the purpose of the odd shape. I never thought I would be able to identify the actual weapon. That is why the picture of Gable in a gunnery turret, which can both rotate and incline a gun barrel, is amazing. The photo shows the track must have been used to simulate shooting at targets from a moving plane.

The Seven Mile CCC Camp (circa 1935-1939) is marked by a kiosk near the Wilbur trailhead. Concrete foundations and walkways for some dozen buildings remain, including four barracks, mess hall, motor pool, infirmary and administration. The camp had flushing toilets, a sewage system, and a water tower on the bluff overlooking the river above the camp. Unfortunately, the park service senselessly destroyed the historic CCC water tower in June of this year.

Terence B. Allen

Spokane



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