Balloon bomb exhibit at Klamath County Museum

Host klamath County Museum
Location Klamath County Museum
Date Apr 27, 2018
Time 09:00 am - 11:00 am

Balloon bomb exhibit at Klamath County Museum


KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – A new exhibit on the Japanese balloon bomb that killed six people near Bly in 1945 will open next week at the Klamath County Museum.

An opening reception for the exhibit will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 3. Exhibit creator Niles Reynolds will give a brief presentation about the invention and design of balloon bombs.

The event is being held two days before the 73rd anniversary of the Bly balloon bomb tragedy. Killed in the bomb explosion were Elsie Mitchell, wife of a pastor in Bly, and five youth from their church: Joan Patzke, Dick Patzke, Edward Engen, Sherman Shoemaker and Jay Gifford.

The museum’s new exhibit features remnant pieces of two separate balloon bombs, including one found on Pelican Butte in the 1950s, and pieces of the balloon bomb involved in the Bly incident.

The new display includes a model of a balloon bomb created by museum staff to illustrate the operation of the devices, which carried explosives more than 5,000 miles from their launch point in Japan to the United States.

“We’ve always had a balloon bomb display, but this new exhibit is augmented with a declassified military video discussing the details of the balloon bomb's operation,” Reynolds said.

A large remnant of the Bly bomb that was donated to the museum earlier this year will be displayed for the first time. The artifact appears to be a red silk shroud, though museum staff said more research needs to be done to learn the shroud’s purpose.

The silk piece was collected by Klamath Falls resident Clarence Miller, a mill worker who came across the scene of the explosion shortly after it happened. The silk remained in Miller’s family until earlier this year, when his granddaughter, Karen Jambura of Boise, donated it to the museum.

Thursday’s museum event is free and open to anyone interested. For more information contact the Klamath County Museum at (541) 882-1000.