Louisiana….WWII vehicles, planes may be in containers buried under Kisatchie National Forest…


A conversation 34 years ago convinced Morton Hurston Jr. there is buried treasure in Central Louisiana, and he thinks he’s found it. One thing stands in the way of him finding out for sure: government permission.

 Under the yellow clay soil of the Kisatchie National Forest, Hurston said he believes, is all manner of World War II equipment — tanks, half-track vehicles, trucks, jeeps and even P-40 fighter planes packed in their original shipping crates.

Hurston, of Baton Rouge, calls this a virtual gold mine of a time capsule, a potential source of exhibits for museums and other military displays. The P-40s, packed in corrosion preventative, might be in mint condition.

“There are only six P-40s flying in the world,” he said. “This could be a very significant historic site.”

Hurston believes the equipment was buried in 1943 at Camp Claiborne, an Army facility north of Forest Hill in Rapides Parish used during World War II, mostly for basic training and artillery practice. Camp Claiborne closed in 1948 and, except for signs on La. 112, little of it remains today.

In 1981, Hurston, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and then an East Baton Rouge sheriff’s reserve deputy, met Jackie Peters, then a full-time deputy. Peters told him that his brother’s father-in-law, Sam Rathburn, of Baker, had described how he was a heavy equipment operator who helped dig three long trenches. A railroad spur was built, and the equipment was brought to the site, driven into the trenches, then covered with the soil, forming three berms.

Why?

Neither Hurston nor Peters, who also has tried to investigate the site, has found any paperwork acknowledging the equipment burial. Peters said he thinks the equipment, which was no longer state-of-the-art, had been sold to China, but it couldn’t be delivered because Japanese forces had cut off land access to that country. So, it was buried to prevent sabotage and, it seems, forgotten.

But not by Peters or Hurston.

When Peters was in the Navy Reserves in the 1980s, he knew men in an antisubmarine squadron who had an aerial magnetometer. He asked them if they could explore the area.

“They flew over and did a magnetometer sweep,” Peters said. “They said there was so much junk down there, ‘we couldn’t tell what was down there. It just blew us off the screen.’”

Peters also enlisted the help of helicopter pilot Reggie Fontenot, who approached Forest Service officials in Louisiana roughly 10 years ago about conducting an exploratory dig.

“They flatly said no, no way,” Fontenot said. “These are people that I knew and worked with, and they said they weren’t even going to entertain the thought of a request on it. … They said they didn’t see it as in the interest of the federal government.”

Unbeknownst to Peters, Hurston also has visited the site several times, and, in the past two years, he intensified his efforts. Remembering what Peters had told him about the site’s location, Hurston found three long, elevated areas on a topographical map and discovered berms, or small hills, overgrown with pine trees and bushes.

In 2014, Hurston spoke to U.S. Forest Service archeologist Velicia Bergstrom, who said she had never heard of such a site. Hurston hired a Houston firm, Ground Penetrating Radar Systems, to see if the berms covered anything unusual. Because he had to clear brush for the electromagnetic imaging equipment to work, there was time to survey only 100 feet of one berm. The equipment detected five objects at least the size of an automobile, Hurston said. Surveys of the ground adjacent to the berm turned up nothing.

So, Hurston said, something is definitely down there.

“We think that many items could be restorable because the compacted clay, according to my geologist friends and according to the … archaeologists, compacted clay forms like an impermeable membrane,” he said. “It can encase like concrete to prevent air and water intrusion that causes oxidation. Specifically, we believe that if, in fact, those aircraft are there … that they can be in good condition for restoration.”

Hurston wants to do a more detailed electromagnetic survey and, if that shows promise, do an exploratory dig to determine exactly what is buried. To break ground, he needs Forest Service permission. That’s where things have stalled.

He has gone up the Forest Service hierarchy through to Michael Kaczor, federal preservation officer in Washington, D.C., who referred him to Jim Caldwell, public affairs officer for Kisatchie National Forest. They spoke last week, and Caldwell directed him to District Ranger Lisa Lewis.

“I think it’s very interesting what might be out there,” Caldwell said. “The more knowledge we can gather, the better. If there’s really something out there, wouldn’t it be something if we had a hand in getting it to a museum so everybody could see it?”

That’s what Hurston wants.

“That is our (the public’s) stuff,” he said. “The Forest Service does not own that. They manage the surface area of the forest. That’s their job: to keep that managed. They don’t own that stuff.”

Advertisements
Categories: Louisiana, WWII | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Post navigation

4 thoughts on “Louisiana….WWII vehicles, planes may be in containers buried under Kisatchie National Forest…

  1. Pingback: Report: WWII vehicles, planes may be in containers buried under Louisiana’s Kisatchie National Forest | Smokey the Jeep

  2. Another great and interesting article! We do enjoy your posts very much, Thank You.

    Doc’ & CJ

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

hocuspocus13

Magickal Arts

sharia unveiled

illuminating minds

mayanexplore.com

Riviera Maya Travel Guide

That's How He Rolls

A 100% grassroots effort to fund a wheelchair van for Jaime

Cajun Food, Louisiana History, and a Little Lagniappe

Preservation of traditional River Road cuisine, Louisiana history & architecture, and the communities between Baton Rouge & NOLA

Jali Wanders

Wondering and Wandering

politicalconnection

Connecting the world to Truth, so that Justice can be served

Tourism Oxford. Click "New Blog Home" in menu for our new website

Visit our blog at its new home http://www.tourismoxford.ca/blog

Southpaw Tracks

“If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” ~Samuel Adams

Pacific Paratrooper

This WordPress.com site is Pacific War era information

Biblical Archaeology

The history and archaeology of the Bible

what's the formula?

Nurturing awesomeness: from the parents of celebrities, heroes, trailblazers and leaders

Digging History

Metal Detecting, History, Birds, Animals, Fylde Coast, River Ribble and more....

River's Flow

Combat Vets for Combat Vets www.riversflow.net

My Encore Life In Focus

Life is a bowl of photos

Tarheel Red

A Voice of Conservatism Living in Carolina Blue

cancer killing recipe

Just another WordPress.com site

%d bloggers like this: