Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tucson, AZ - CCC at Work

Have I ever mentioned how much we appreciate the work of the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps? I know I have, probably every time we visit a National Park because their handiwork is evident in just about every National Park. They’ve built bridges, walls, shelters, picnic tables, dams, walkways, paths. And, their work is always so distinctive: it is well done, made to last, extensive and art work in stone. They were busy little beavers. And, we benefit today from all the work they did.

This is one of the picnic tables that they build. Substantial. Built for a family reunion. Note the marvelous stone work. We liked the view also.


They were millions of young men without jobs during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s Act in 1933 not only offered jobs to them but also provided park protection, made improvements furnished disaster relief, prevented soil erosion (my father-in-law worked on this in Iowa) wildlife protection, historical renovation and, well, lots of other serviced that we benefit form today.

Here’s a two-fer fireplace they built with a seat and a small table to put bar-be-que tools on. The grate could also be lifted up to clean under. This fireplace is still here. It’s not going anyplace.


A typical enrolee was about 19 yrs old, had completed 8 years of school, and had been without a job in the previous 78 months. He served in the CCC for 9 - 12 months for $1.00 per day. But, of this $30 per month, he had to send $15 home to his parents and keep only $5.00. It cost about $4000 per year for each of these young men which included their clothing, housing, food and $30 per week. Eventually about 4,000,000 young men were associated with the CCC.

During the day they worked on whatever projects were assigned. In the evenings, they took classes so that they could get their high school diploma and get a job afterwards. English, algebra, reading, writing, typing, current events, radio operation, auto mechanics, drafting, journalism, surveying. My father-in-law learned how to drive a car, though I’m not sure how much training he got. They gave him the keys, the car and told him where to go. Every Friday, transportation to Tucson was provided, on Sundays they had church. They played basketball and other sports in their spare time - which was limited. There were pretty tired at the end of the day.

Here’s a ramada with picnic tables. The roof is made of wooden supports with the saguaro ribs laid crosswise to them. The side pillars are made of cement but they put saguaro ribs around them to make them look natural. Lots of benches to sit on, sturdy tables and shelter from the sun.



The stonework is part of the National Park Service plan to make their park ? our of natural materials.

In Saguaro NP they built picnic areas consisting of ramadas, fireplaces, picnic tables, shelters and bathrooms. They also build roads, dams which still prevent erosion and provide water to wildlife and built trails which we still enjoy. Today we went searching for these.

Oh, yeah, have I ever told you how much I appreciate the work of the CCC?

They also built lots of ‘check’ dams to help check the speed of water flowing through the washes. By checking its flow, they helped keep erosion at a minimum and provided water to animals in the area.



This one had attracted a boatload of bees, which we have heard might be Africanized. Obviously we wanted to get over the dam to walk up the wash but, when I stepped up on the front rocks, I quickly jumped down. We saw that they wrer mostly on the left and we went over the dam on the right hand side, hugging the rocks.


Bathrooms also but these are not currently being used since the park service has build more modern ones near the picnic areas.



These are all things that the CCC built that we could see today. They also made a few improvements that have not lasted - like signage. They made close to 32 road signs - as noted in a Master Plan Map of 1937. Made of wood, none of them have lasted but there were pictures showing the signs and landscaping in back of them which makes locating their original location easier.

The signs have a consistent appearance: one or two support posts made from saguaro ribs, probably with a concrete core, (much like the roof supports found at the park’s ramadas) with hand-wrought metal hardware. The sign itself was a wood plank that was hand-lettered, first by burning the letters into the wood and then painting-in the letters. All of the hardware was made from iron that was hand-wrought on a forge at Camp Pima, where the CCC lived during their stay at Saguaro NP.




The CCC made lots of contributions to Saguaro NP while they were here from 1933 to 1941, most of the still serving visitors to the park. What a great job they did and we appreciate it every where we go. That’s why we seek out their work. This made for a most enjoyable hike today.

Oh, yeah, I sure appreciate the work of the CCC.

‘On the other hand, you have — different fingers.’


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