Applegate trail reveals site of 1945 plane crash

In the Cook & Green area of the Applegate system, there is trail No. 957 to Azalea Lake. Approximately eight miles along this trail there are some grave sites where, as I understand, the victims of an airplane crash are buried.

My questions are: Who were the victims? When did it happen? Why were they buried there? What kind of plane was it? And why did it crash?

— James D., Medford

We had to dig deep into our archives as well as consult one U.S. Forest Service archaeological technician and a retired forest archaeologist but we got your answer, James.

As you indicated, the graves contain the last earthly remains of victims of an airplane crash.

The crash occurred on July 28, 1945, according to a Page One story in the Mail Tribune on July 31 of that year. In addition to its pilot, the four-seater Stinson chartered airplane was carrying Portland residents Sylvan L. Gosliner, his wife, Ruby Gosliner, and her sister, Alma V. Pratt.

Sylvan Gosliner was the owner of Industrial Equipment Co. in Portland, and had been traveling on business, the story reported.

The northbound plane had left Red Bluff that morning, bound for Eugene, it noted.

Army and Forest Service planes had been searching the area for three days before the wreckage was spotted from the air on the last day of July that year.

According to the news story, a Forest Service pilot reported, "The plane was standing on its nose and no signs of life were visible around the wreckage."

"It crashed between the trail and Butte Fork Creek. Nobody survived," noted Jeff LaLande, retired archaeologist for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Early in his career, LaLande talked to a forest employee who recalled helping pack out the remains of the pilot, whose name we were not able to find.

The three family members were buried at the site, he added, noting the cause of the crash was unknown.

Forest archaeological technician Dave Knutson was able to find a photograph of an old plaque at the crash site which includes the date and the names — Silvan (spelled differently than in the article) L. Gosliner, Ruby May Gosliner and Alma Virgie Pratt.


Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

Editor's note: Columnist Bill Miller provided an update about the pilot. See the related story link above.

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