Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Fulltime RVing: A SUMMER IN THE “BRIG”. . .

museum, that is.  

Interpretive Hosting at Farragut State Park in Idaho was one of our more interesting Fulltime RVing experiences.  My article about this experience was published in the Workamper News photo contest a few years ago. Workamper News article 2002Text of the above:

Few people are aware that 4,000 acre Farragut State Park in the panhandle of Idaho was once the location of a World War II Naval Training Center.  The Brig (Navy term for jail) is the only remaining building of about 700 which were quickly built after the Pearl Harbor attack.  Farragut Naval Training Center trained 293,381 “boots” for the war effort during it’s short operation from 1942-46.

We thoroughly enjoyed our assignment as Interpretive Hosts at the “Brig” naval museum.  We felt we were caretakers of an important piece of our country’s history.  A highlight was hearing both the stories of the men and women who trained and worked at the center and those who lived during the war years.  Most often they started with “we didn’t do anything special.”

From Park Manager Bryan and rangers Dennis, Al, Jim, Tami, Keith, Pam to Park Interpreter Nancy, friendly helpful park aides, Visitor Center personnel and especially the campground hosts we were made to feel welcome and valued.

Situated in forests of ponderosa and other pines, nowadays this quiet scenic park on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced Pond Oray) hosts campers, bicyclists, horse back riders, Boy and Girl Scout Jamborees, a shooting range, and even a special area, (formerly parade grounds for the training center) for remote controlled airplane events.  Abundant wildlife roams the park with an occasional “black dog in the area” alert.  Black dog is a code word for bear!

For the 14th time in our eight years of full timing our Workamper assignment was a positive experience. Thanks, Workamper News, for publishing the “Sears catalog” of working and volunteering on the road.

The photo of us and grandson Jorden, a seasoned “Junior Workamper,” is taken in front of the museum map of the naval training center.


MVC-846SThe Brig is the only remaining major Naval Training Center building. Unruly “boots” would have entered through the large gates on center front of the Brig.  Brig Museum entrance is at left front of the building. imageOur site was tucked into the Ponderosa pines beside the Brig and entrance to the museum.MVC-797SBefore arriving at Farragut we were unaware that the Navy had a land-locked training center during WWII.  Makes sense since it was feared that coastal locations would have been vulnerable to enemy attack.MVC-703SUnrestored solitary confinement cells in an area of the Brig not open to the public.  Although it is rumored that ghosts of long-gone sailors roam the Brig we didn’t experience any paranormal activity.MVC-705SThis cell would have housed four to six inmates.  The mattresses aren’t exactly Tempur-pedic are they? And the blankets were scratchy wool--ouch.MVC-698SAnother cell without the chain link door and enclosure.  Items on the bunks are WWII era Navy uniforms.MVC-710SThe display board demonstrates many many sailor knots. Kids, and adults too, I must say, were attracted to the practice rail for learning knots such as clove hitch, anchor hitch and bowline. MVC-692SSignalman operated this signal lamp and also utilized semaphore flag signaling.  The red and white flag is a semaphore dating back to the war.MVC-699SA blackout headlight used on military vehicles.MVC-700SIn addition to our Interpretive Hosting duties we took on other projects at the Brig.  Here Gary is painting a new sign for the museum.  Jorden took part in several “Junior Ranger” programs such as tree planting, bike safety and wolf education.


Are you familiar with any of these Nautical quotes?

"Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead!" -Admiral David Glasgow Farragut

"Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!"-Lieutenant Howell Maurice Forgy

"Don't give up the ship!"- Captain James Lawrence

"I have not yet begun to fight!"-Captain John Paul Jones

“Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning”

“There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.” Joseph Conrad

"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest -- Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!" R.L. Stevenson


  1. Fascinating post! I had no idea that the Navy had a land-locked base, but it makes sense, given the fears of coastal attacks during World War II. It's amazing how much we're still learning about that time.

  2. Interesting! Didn't know this tidbit either. My uncle was a Lt Commander in the Navy, retired many, many years ago. Sadly, he died last November while driving home from the VA Hospital in Jackson MS. They think he fell asleep at the wheel. He was in his early 80's.

    You certainly are doing so much out there on the road. Who knew Paul Bunyan was such a popular guy!

    Best wishes, Tammy

  3. Well, my gosh, that was quite an experience for you. I always have had a fascination with "brigs" and that tour would have been quite interesting to me.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting, too. Loved your visit. Come back anytime. Susan from Can't sign in the regular way, for some odd reason.

  4. I had no idea either - this is so amazing - I LOVE BLOGS - I learn something new every single day.

    Loved seeing your picture now I know who I am writing too!

  5. This post was so interesting! I think the idea of being where there were rumored ghosts would freak me out a little bit. It sounds like the rest of it was very neat though.