McKenna - AWS Observation Post

AWS In Washington
AWS in Washington
The AWS station was located in South Pierce County, in a rural area near McKenna & Yelm. The location picked was a flat open prairie area but it seems the location had some landowner issues, so it was moved a mile north to the property of the Burtons. This newly constructed building with AWS funds was scheduled to be abandoned after the war, the state did not want it. Below is a memo written about the post:

McKenna Observation Post is activated and functioning well but due to the shortage of carpenters we have not started construction of the building, although the lumber is on the site. The observers are living in tents which is not too satisfactory. These observers reside just one mile north of the post where they have a house with a telephone. Field reports indicate that plane detection is equally as good at this point as it is at the observation post. Would it be permissible to temporarily move the post to the observers house until we can construct the building so that they will not be observing under adverse conditions? This change is agreeable to the observers and involves no cost to the Aircraft Warning Service.

We are having some difficulty with the School Board of the La Camas School on whose property the McKenna post is located. They want us to clear about one acre of cutover land, a proposal which I rejected since the cost would probably be around $300. They still feel they are entitled to some reimbursement and have tentatively proposed $10 a year. This, of course, is a small sum but I do not like their attitude in the matter. I am having a field examination made today of a point one mile north and directly in back of the observers house, mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Should this examination prove that plane detection would not suffer I would recommend to you that we move the post one mile north, constructing it on this property. The observers have agreed to such use regardless of whether or not they remain as observers. They seem patriotic and desirous to help in any way they can. If this move were made a difficult water problem would be solved and the only extra cost would be in moving the lumber one mile north. I will have a report on this shortly and will discuss it with you further.
Location: NE S6 T16N R3E
Structure: 14x32 house
Owner of Land at Time: Paul K. Burton
The big open area where the observation post was first planned was part of the valley where Wilcox Farms is located. Wilcox Farm is a well known farm in Western Washington that sells to most our grocers and Costco. When the war started the Wilcox’s had 5000 laying hens, one of the larger poultry farms in the state. The farm started in 1909 when Judson and Elizabeth Wilcox purchased the farm on Harts Lake. Below is a video showing the open landscape and farm.
Local History:
metsker map mckenna history mckenna location mckenna topo map mckenna history
1951 Metsker Map 8 years later does show a Burton homestead living in the SW quarter of section 6
NE 1/4
This text is written out at the top of the page.
mckenna map