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Talk Looks Into S. Oregon Coast / Coos Bay Astronaut and His 'Moon Trees'

Published 01/13/22 at 5:32 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Talk Looks Into S. Oregon Coast / Coos Bay Astronaut and His 'Moon Trees'

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(Coos Bay, Oregon) – A long time ago, in a forest not so far away from the beaches, one man went from there to space and around the moon, going where few men had gone before. He eventually made the Oregon coast his home, after taking hundreds of tree seeds with him on his space mission.

That's more or less the story of Stuart Roosa, an astronaut who got his start in an Oregon forest, then returned to the state to make Coos Bay his home – an astronaut whose story will be told in a talk coming up in the southern Oregon coast town on February 1. The talk starts at 6 p.m. and will be given by historian Becky Soules. It will be available both in person and live online.

It's part of the Coos History Museum's relaunch of their First Tuesday Talk program, kicking off in February with Soules' presentation of “Apollo 14: Coos Bay Connection.” Doors open at 5:30 p.m. at the museum.

This truly inter-stellar presentation will be available in a hybrid format, both in person at the CHM and online via Zoom. Registration is free for members, $7 for non-members joining in person, and non-members joining the presentation online will now receive a reduced price of $5.

Soules will dig deeply into Roosa, and how the Apollo 14 astronaut was known for what were called “Moon Trees” at the time.

Roosa, originally from Oklahoma, started out as a smokejumper in forests in the late ‘50s. In the early ‘60s, he became a test pilot and moved to Oregon, where he fell in love with its forests.

Later, in the 1970s, he was part of the Apollo 14 mission, where he took along 500 seedlings for trees as he looped around the moon and came back. Roosa did not walk on the moon, however – he stayed onboard the command module.

Still, his seedlings became quite famous and coveted, with apparently just about all of them getting planted somewhere. However, only 50 locations are known, several of which are in Salem, Oregon. The locations of the other 450 are extremely sought-after subjects of mystery, not unlike the Toynbee Tiles.

It's still considered a curiosity that their trip through space never created anything unusual in the life of the moon trees.

Later, Roosa made the southern Oregon coast his home, where he passed away in the early ‘90s.

Soules will take a look at how he, Coos Bay, and moon trees are all part of an out-of-this-world historic event. Any who are planning to attend this program are asked to please pre-register at the museum or on the CHM website (cooshistory.org/events/first-tuesday-talks-feb-2022). You may also contact the museum via email at education@cooshistory.org or by phone at 541-756-6320 x216.

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One of the space trees in front of a NASA facility




Shore Acres, Coos Bay, courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

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