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Strange & Wonderful

Early in the 20th century Payette County served as host to a KKK gathering. The museum has photos of a parade held during this event. Though this is not something to be proud of, it is also not something that we want to hide or pretend that it never happened. The museum was given a KKK costume/uniform and after it was part of the State of Idaho Sesquicentennial Celebration at the Boise Historical Museum the costume is currently on exhibit at the Payette County Museum.

Remembering Those Who Served

Have you heard about the plane crash out on Little Willow Creek?  In 1958 an Air Force C123 plane crashed to the ground five miles east of the city of Payette along Little Willow Creek.  Some said the plane was having engine trouble as it flew low over the hills.  Others said the plane was overloaded and couldn’t clear the hills.  Witnesses reported seeing a flock of birds rising from the ground just before the plane crashed.  Whatever the cause the crash was fatal; killing all 19 people on board including 14 members of the Air Force Thunderbirds ground crew.   

People in the area stopped what they were doing and rushed to the site to offer what help they could.  Every fire department in the county and some outside the county answered the call to fight the fire that consumed the wreckage.  Local police helped relay calls and manage the influx of traffic while members of the Civil Air Patrol helped set up lines of communication.  Eventually the Air Force was able to get personnel from Mountain Home Air Force Base to Little Willow Creek to take command of the situation. 

The families of those 19 people on board were basically told that their loved ones had died in a plane crash in Idaho, and were given the names of the other people on board the plane but were left with their many other questions unanswered.  Some of the family members were later told that a monument had be erected in Idaho near the crash site with the names of the victims but they were uncertain who paid for the monument or even where it was.   The memorial was put in place by the Key Club from Payette High School a year after the crash.   In recent years a brother came out to see the site, a sister came a different year, and they are making contact with other families also affected by the crash. These family members recently gathered in the Little Willow Creek area to visit the crash site and the memorial. 

The Payette County Museum has served as a source of information for these families and organized a C-123 Crash Remembrance Ceremony  to welcome them and help them meet with witnesses to the crash, first responders to the crash-site, and with anyone who was a member of the Payette High School Key Club from 1958-60.  This event was held on Thursday, August 5th just south of Little Willow Road at the Fort Wilson Park along Highway 52 where the memorial is sited.  For more information and photos of this event please visit our Events page.

A book by Larry Good - a brother to one of the crash victims - containing many of the newspaper coverage of the crash plus military reports and eye-witness accounts is available at the museum for a donation of $15. The families of the crash victims have stayed in touch and recently had a reunion. 

In the northeast corner of the museum there appear to be two Confederate soldiers preparing to shoot a cannon.  A basket of cannonballs sits on the floor near the cannon.  The display is meaningful, but something is not quite right.  The cannon sits on a simple wooden frame painted pale grey.  Efforts are underway to change this simple frame because the people of Payette consider this a very important cannon.

The Civil War cannon was purchased for the city of Payette by the Grand Army of the Republic organization using funds contributed by Payette citizens in 1912.  

The cannon tube is an 1861 Bronze Confederate Civil War Cannon which shot a six-pound projectile.  According to cannon historian Wayne E. Stark the Payette gun is "one of the rarest surviving Civil War cannons" and "is the only known surviving cannon from A. M. Paxton & Co. of Vicksburg, MS."  According to Stark this cannon originated as a casting made by Quinby & Robinson of Memphis, but a fire in their machine shop put an end to their business and the casting was sent to Vicksburg to be completed.  Stark could only find documentation for three cannons completed by Paxton, making the cannon now in Payette an extreme rarity.

PCHS is currently raising money to build a more authentic carriage for the cannon and expects the replica cannon carriage to cost about $20,000. The group is raising funds by selling t-shirts and mugs with pictures of the cannon on them. The shirts are available for donations of $12 -14 (depending on size) and the mugs for $15 and can be obtained at the museum. Contributions to the cannon carriage fund are always welcome and be may sent in the form of a check or money order made out to PCHS Cannon Fund and delivered to the Payette County Museum at 90 S 9th ST, in Payette, or mailed to PCHS, P.O. Box 696, Payette  ID  83661.  To speak to someone at the museum call (208)642-4883 Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 4pm.

All text and photos not otherwise attributed are provided by museum volunteer and web designer Lucinda Sutherland.  E-mail your comments to Sutherland at lucisept61@yahoo.com .

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