PORT ORFORD - The Cape Blanco Heritage Society will hold the 18th Annual Jerry Can Races at 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 4, near the Port Orford Lifeboat Station Museum in the Port Orford Heads State Park. This activity reflects a tough task of the U.S. Coast Guard men who served at this rescue station from 1934 to 1970.
Jerry cans are military fuel cans. Why are they called "jerry cans"? During World War II, British soldiers in North Africa noted that the Germans' fuel cans were better: They did not split when falling off a truck. The British adopted the German design and called them Jerry cans. ("Jerry" was a nickname used by the British to refer to German soldiers.)
During the early days of the Lifeboat Station, the Coast Guard men -- known as "Coasties" -- carried fuel from the main station to the boathouse, located in Nellie's Cove, 280 feet down a staircase of more than 530 steps. They carried the fuel in five-gallon cans, one in each hand. Each can weighed 42 pounds.
To honor this work, Cape Blanco Heritage Society welcomes people to its Jerry Can Races. Two-person relay teams will carry two Jerry cans -- one in each hand -- over a 50-yard course. Winners will be determined by the fastest time in each class. Classes are determined by the combined ages of the team members, in a men's division (42-pound cans) division, a women's division (20-pound cans), and a couples division. Contestants must be at least 16 years of age. The overall winners will receive two fares for 104-mile Wilderness Whitewater trip from Jerry's Rogue Jet Boats.