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History of Montague-Yreka Airport Rohrer Field


The municipal airport at Montague was created at its present location in 1928. Brice Rohrer, after whom the airport was renamed in 1978, was one of those who graded the strip out of Montague’s rough adobe. The maintenance hangar and a small weather observatory building were built in 1928. Civilian Conservation Corps funds helped to bring in large quantities of gravel to stabilize the landing area in the early '30s. What is now the pilots' lounge was built as a lunchroom in 1931.

Photos show the airport being used by William Randolph Hearst to bring notables to visit his McCloud Reservoir castle. Others show a United Airlines Ford trimotor being refueled here.

Leo Purington established the first postwar fixed base operation (FBO) here in 1945 and ran it for 17 years. Leo considered one of his most important contributions to be his recommendation that the City of Montague join with Yreka to share in the costs of operating this airport that obviously serves the county seat.

In 1974 Montague entered into a joint powers agreement with Yreka that established the Montague-Yreka Airport Advisory Commission. Full responsibility for the airport remained with Montague, but Yreka contributed one-half of the $5,000 per year matching funds to go with the annual state contribution. (Montague traditionally provided its $2,500 share in in-kind services.) In 2002 the agreement was amended to increase each city's share to $5,000.

Subsequent FBO’s were operated by Bud Davis, Lloyd Thompson, Fred Arnberg, and a number of partnerships. About 1976 the late Bill Maginnis bought out his partners and ran Montague Aviation, Inc, until January 1, 1979 when Terry and Jean Weathers purchased some of the assets and established a “Ma and Pa” FBO with two employees, dba Montague Aviation. At the request of the Airport Advisory Commission, the Weathers agreed to lease and operate the entire developed southeast quarter of the airport, instead of the small portion of office, hangar and fuel island previously leased to Montague Aviation, Inc.

Originally the airport was only a north-south dirt strip. A crosswind runway was added in the '30s. A small amount of paving was added to the south end of the original strip in the '50s to accommodate drag racing by automobiles, not aircraft. The north-south strip eventually received a paving job of sorts, but the excellent fifty-foot wide runway full parallel taxiways was not installed until 1978. This major improvement was funded ninety-percent by the California Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division.

The last major improvement consisted of lengthening the runway by six hundred feet to its present 3360 feet in 1982. This was part of a statewide program to bring airports up to what was then called “Basic Utility One” status.

Parking appeared to be the biggest upcoming problem. The ramp was enlarged and an additional future expansion area was prepared. A hangar plan was prepared in the early '80s and several individuals built hangars on land subleased from Montague Aviation. These parties shared the expense of providing taxiways to their hangars.

It is interesting to note that January 1979 is generally regarded to be the start of the decline in general aviation in the United States. Montague Aviation’s gross income increased variably from $179,000 in 1979 to $299,000 in 1987, and has decreased since. Montague Aviation became the only airplane charter service or flight school operating in Siskiyou County. Rohrer Field offered the only full service maintenance operations in the county, with both Montague Aviation and Northwest Aircraft Repair in business on the field. With the timber industry on the decline, there was no good reason to expect significant growth in areas other than tourism (scenic flights and glider rides).


Steelman Aviation, an aircraft repair company, started up shortly after the closure of Northwest around 2002 and continues in business today.

Larry and Sharon Graves, dba as Montague Aeropark, have leased the airport land west of the runway since 1996. Dba North Valley Aviation, the Graves also served as the FBO for a number of years, until July 2002 when Dave and Kristine Weld took over as Shasta Valley Aviation until 2012.

The Montague Soaring Center took over operation of the airport as the FBO in early 2012 and continued operation until 2016 when Steelman Aviation took over as FBO. Future improvements to airport lighting are planned.

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7:30 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.
Phone: (530) 459- 3030

Phone: (530) 459-3456

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Phone: (530) 598-1020

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