27 November 2011

How to build a camp stove or fireplace

An email from a reader alerted me to the existence of a book entitled "Camp Stove and Fireplaces," by A.D. Taylor (1937), which my local library was able to obtain for me.  This publication by the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture served as a reference manual for participants in the CCC undertaking stonework.

It's a surprisingly comprehensive and sensible instructional book, illustrated by clear line drawings such as those above.  It does not discuss stuctures such as buildings, bridges, and walls - just the fire-related structures along trails and at campsites.  In an era when huge numbers of Americans were for the first time beginning to discover and explore the national and state parks, the book was written with a goal of producing campfire sites that would minimize the risk of forest fires, while blending the design of the structures into the natural landscape as attractively as possible.

I didn't realize the CCC provided this degree of formal training; I thought most of the skilled work was simply guided by "local experienced men."  This book may help explain some of the uniformity of structures that can be seen in parks across the country.


  1. The man in plate XXIV seems to be over-dressed for the occasion.

  2. Three comments:
    1) People used to dress more formally years ago. He was probably out for a weekend afternoon drive.
    2) I took one look at these structures and realized that I have seen these stoves many times in my travels. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find some still in use.
    3) Plate XXV fig. 3--I think course stone should be coarse stone. In other words we have a coarse course.

  3. Fun find.
    The book can be found here http://www.archive.org/details/campstovesfirepl00taylrich

    The aesthetic quality of rock work is as subjective as any art form, but they did a good job of steering people clear of crummy work. Lots of people try rock work around here (NY), and much turns out inappropriate compared to what was done in the old days.

  4. Excellent, Norm. I hadn't thought to look for it online.

  5. @big John
    Not 100% sure, but I believe course stone may refer to flat, sufficiently-thick stones that in previous (namely, pre-concrete used for everything) times were bedded in the ground to provide a foundation for the "first course" of bricks in a brick wall.


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