Showing posts with label Civilian Conservation Corps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Civilian Conservation Corps. Show all posts

26 June 2014

CCC-constructed stone "Kiwanis Cabin" in New Mexico

Summer is the time for travel, and thus the opportunity for me and the readers of this blog to visit CCC-constructed stonework projects around the country.  These photos come to us courtesy of reader Christopher, who recently traveled to Albuquerque, and found this stone structure at an altitude of 10,000+ feet along the Sandia Crest Road.

A plaque embedded in the stone confirms the provenance of the structure.  It is classic CCC work in that it makes use exclusively of local stone.  The style obviously does not involve tight junctions, and the overall appearance of a partially-collapsed "ruin" is clearly an artistic endeavor.  I found this explanation online:
The trail starts out along the crest and then wanders into the woods for a while, before skirting the edge of Kiwanis Meadow and winds its way back towards the crest and to the Kiwanis rock house. In the 1920's the Kiwanis Club of Albuquerque built a log cabin on the site which was destroyed by fire a couple of years later. A second log cabin was destroyed by high winds. In the 1930's the Kiwanis Club asked the Civilian Conservation Corps to build them a new cabin, which they did in the summer of 1936. The CCC constructed the cabin out of local limestone, and in the style known as "Rustic Aesthetic."

Inside, the structure seems to follow the general pattern of other state- and national-park CCC buildings, serving as a shelter from inclement weather, with a basic fireplace? for cooking.

The Albuquerque Journal had this additional information in 2007:
To clean a year's worth of graffiti off the Kiwanis Cabin at Sandia Crest, it takes three archaeologists, a truck with a pressure washer, someone to drive the truck and someone to use the washer in a way that doesn't damage the cabin...
The cabin had windows on three sides, a fireplace and a door, but the fireplace was sealed and the windows and door were removed.  "Beginning in the '40s the windows started being broken," Hudson said.
So sad to hear about the graffiti and vandalism performed by mindless cretins.

A quick search this morning produced a detailied pdf about the role of the CCC in the New Mexico park system.  I also found these notes about the CCC in New Mexico in the Forestry Service's website:
In the span of eight years, from 1933 to 1941, 54,585 Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees in New Mexico built hundreds of roads and rails, 795 bridges, 472 lookout towers large dams and reservoirs, installed millions of rods of fences and planted millions of trees for reforestation and to prevent gully erosion.  When these New Mexico men joined the corps, along with 3.5 million other Americans, the country was in desperate straits. Close to 25 percent of the population was unemployed. Hunger and despair had become a way of life.  A group of local corps alumni want to see a memorial CCC museum of national stature built on the site where CCC Camp 814 F-8-N Sandia Park once stood on a piece of land just off NM 536, the Sandia Crest Road. They want people to know what they accomplished in youthful days during the Great Depression. And they want today’s youth to know that youth are a major asset to this country, just as the CCC men were when they were boys. The CCC was the greatest-ever conservation effort in American history.
I have a variety of pleasant memories of the Sandias, dating from the time I lived in Dallas and visited family in Grants and friends in Albuquerque.  But despite hiking and playing frisbee in the mountains, I don't remember ever having encountered this cabin.

Again, a hat tip to reader Christopher for sending me the photos; if readers in the Albuquerque region have photos of other stonework along the Sandia Crest Trail (bridges, stairways), please feel free to send them along.

05 January 2014

CCC stonework at Highlands Hammock State Park (Florida)

The fourteenth entry in our series on the stonework of the Civilian Conservation Corps (and the fifth to be "outsourced" to a reader of the blog), comes from Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring, Florida, which was recently visited by reader Kay Shapiro, who posted these photos in her blog Soapbox by Kay.

The philosophy of the CCC and the economic realities of the Great Depression mandated that construction be done with locally-sourced materials, which obviously would have presented some difficulties for stonework in the state of Florida.  Kay notes that the stone in the structures she found was not as intrincially beautiful as that used for projects at Gooseberry Falls, Yellowstone, or Watkins Glen.

It's also likely that the young men assigned to the Florida camps would have had less experience working with stone than those in the Northeast or western states, and there may have been fewer professional stonemasons available to hire to supervise them.  As evidence of this I would point to the fireplace at the park's museum building:

I use the distance between the stones as a rough index of the skill and experience of the stonemason - the finest in the world, in my view, being the dry stone walls of the Inca, as this one at Cuzco:

Here is Kay's photo of the fireplace as seen from the inside of the museum:

The comparison is of course unfair, since the Inca had slave labor and endless time and resources.  I would suspect also that the stone available in Florida at the time was probably of a sedimentary type that would have been more friable and thus less amenable to shaping before placement in a strucure compared to that used in Minnesota.

What I like about the stonework at Highlands Hammock State Park is exemplified by the  bridge in the top photo.  It's not merely a utilitarian structure.  It serves its function to traverse a waterway, but the builders also curved the walls out at the ends, then recurved the abutment (detail photo at right) to allow the placement of native plants - extra time, work, and scarce resources expended for a visually-pleasing esthetic effect.

At the park there is a statue commemorating the work of the men and boys of the Civilian Conservation Corps.  The bronze figure looks identical to the one at Gooseberry Falls State Park in Minnesota, but the text on the memorial plaque is a bit more poignant.

It is dedicated to the memory of Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees who were disabled or lost their lives in the performance of their work - noting in particular the ones who perished at three camps in the Upper Florida Keys when their workplaces were devastated by a hurricane.

Kay also photographed a map at the park showing the locations of CCC projects around the United States:

There's probably one near you.  When the temperature gets above freezing, consider going for a visit.  And take your camera.

01 November 2013

CCC stonework at Robert H. Treman State Park

Today's tour of the Robert H. Treman State Park (Ithaca, N.Y.) features photography by reader Flask Ehrlenmeyer, who was a contributor to the Watkins Glen post last month.

The Friends of the park provide this description of the Civilian Conservation Corps' activities:
"Company 1265, Camp SP-6, Robert H. Treman State Park, Enfield, NY was started up in May of 1933 with tents on platforms. By winter all structures were wooden, Army-style barracks and subsidiary buildings (garage, storage/supply bldg., officers' quarters and HQ bldg., latrine, shower house, infirmary, mess hall, recreation hall, pumphouse...and a covered boxing ring."
"During its first year Camp SP-6, Company 1265 won first place in inspection competition in NY State. It accommodated up to 200 young men, and had sports teams and evening educational programs. Men here did wonderful and still attractive work building bridges and trails in Enfield Glen, Taughannock Falls, and Buttermilk Falls State Parks, and took out flagstones from the creek bed above Taughannock Falls for use in stonework projects in many of the Finger Lakes State Parks of New York State. Some of the men stayed at Enfield Glen (now Robert H. Treman) State Park, while others were taken by truck to the other two parks mentioned above, for the day's work."
"Projects included building stone and timber bridges and retaining walls, constructing scenic foot trails, improving roads in the parks, grading, seeding, and planting trees"
"The Camp was the last to be disestablished in upstate New York, in 1941... The buildings were all sold and removed by the new owners, the land was deeded over to Robert H. Treman State Park, and the site is now an overgrown jungle with a concrete platform here and there under the vegetation, plus the circle of white-painted stones, mostly obscured, that surrounded the flagpole."

For once I'll just hush up and let Flask's photos speak for themselves.  There are dozens more photos in the Flickr photoset.

Wow, what a gorgeous park and awesome stonework.  For those who like me now have an insane desire to hike the park but live too far away from the Finger Lakes region to make a visit practicable, here is Flask's video tour of the stonework:

Flask is a long-time reader and commenter here at TYWKIWDBI.  Her award-winning blog is at Forever, Flask

31 October 2013

CCC stonework at Riverside State Park [Washington]

Reader Lloyd Stanley recently visited Riverside State Park (northwest of Spokane) to photograph some of the CCC legacy there.
I was interested in comparing the CCC's work at Riverside State Park to those that you have featured in your blogs, so I made a recent visit to the park. This park is located about six miles west of Spokane, WA and borders the fast moving Spokane River. The river flows from Lake Coeur d' Alene in Coeur d' Alene, ID and empties into the Columbia River miles above Grand Coulee Dam.

Obvious from these photographs, there is a stark difference in the construction techniques used here as compared to those used at Gooseberry Falls and others that you have presented in the past. Also, a lack of grounds grooming at Riverside somewhat troubles me, perhaps management prefers the appearance of a natural environment however.
Lloyd's point about the variation in techniques is quite valid.  My understanding is that there was little in the way of central governance of the individual projects except perhaps for the standard residence buildings a the camps.  For the stonework I believe he CCC hired local stonemasons as supervisors/teachers, so likely the style differences reflect those regional (or personal) variations.

The wall at this building -

and in this picnic shelter -

- appear to be almost mortarless, but true mortarless construction requires consummate skill probably beyond that to be expected of the CCC enrollees, and I believe would not likely be used for load-bearing walls like the one above (typical mortarless walls would be simple property-boundary fences such as are seen throughout New England).

By contrast, the photo at right of the two-sided cookstove in the shelter shows mortar that has been slathered on with more enthusiasm than skill - almost certainly a modern repair of a deteriorating structure, applied with a desire for efficacy rather than aesthetics.

Finally, Lloyd's photo of the iconic pedestrian bridge at the state park serves as a reminder that Civilian Conservation Corps participants did much more than stonework, creating a wide variety of projects designed to improve the park experience for generations to come.

Thank you Mr. Stanley.  Next week Flask is going to give us a tour of the stonework at Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca.

05 October 2013

Watkins Glen State Park CCC stonework - Updated

John Farrier posted at Neatorama the above photo (credit: Peter Rivera) of Watkins Glen State Park in upstate New York, noting that "stone walkways and bridges built in the 1930s provide access to travellers."

A quick search confirms that the stonework is a product of Civilian Conservation Corps workers.  A Google Image search of the topic yields thousands of photos of the park, but most of them emphasize the natural beauty of the gorge and the water.  I did find this image of stonework ("Jacob's Ladder") -

-in Wikimedia Commons.

The Finger Lakes of New York state are a 12-hour drive from Madison, and my current situation does not permit an extended vacation.  If some reader of this blog lives within daytrip-range and would like to take a set of photos focusing on the stonework, I would love to add this park to TYWKIWDBI's CCC Stonework category, with you as credited photographer.

Addendum: I received replies from three readers, who inundated me with images of what obviously an extremely photogenic park.  From their submissions and photo albums I've reluctantly skipped over the pix of the natural beauty of the park and selected ones that focus on the Civilian Conservation Corps work (I've taken the editorial liberty of cropping for emphasis and to fit the blog and sometimes adjusting the color balance and exposure).

The bridges over the gorge(s) are a natural draw for the eye and the camera and structurally represent the peak of the CCC stonework.  This one over Rainbow Falls -

- by reader Christy shows how the use of native stone quarried near the park allows the creation of structures that blend almost seamlessly with the natural setting.  Here's another, virtually "natural" bridge -

- at Central Cascade.  And finally, at Sentry Bridge reader Flask captured a view from underneath -

- that reveals a structural component I can't quite explain - an expanse of what appears to be concrete on the undersurface.  Concrete is certainly used on the top of the bridge (photo by Christy) -

- presumably serving as a kind of "capstone" to keep water out during freeze-thaw cycles.  Whether that undersurface plays an essential role in weight-bearing is not clear to me.  Perhaps some readers here are engineers...

In the photo above one can see one or two gaps at the base of the walls, documented by reader Rachel -

- as a planned drainage hole.  I've seen similar gaps in stone railings and parapets in Minnesota and suspect that in addition to water control they also serve (intentionally or not) as escapements for snakes and small mammals.

Now stairways.  Lots of stairways in this park - beautifully constructed, as this image by Rachel shows (many of the photos in this post will supersize with a click):

What I like about her image is how the stairway on the right is balanced by the sheer stone on the other side of the gorge, giving the man-made structure a very "organic" appearance.  Her closeup view of the steps -

- shows that smooth slabs have been utilized for the ease of pedestrian traffic.  Interestingly, these are not artificial concrete slabs; Rachel arrived at Watkins Glen at a time when repair work was underway.  She found a set of slabs ready to be installed:

It appears to be a natural sedimentary rock (slate?), presumably harvested nearby.  These have been machine-cut on several sides to facilitate uniformity and installation, presumably a luxury the CCC crews of the 1930s would not have had.  Reader Christy documented the change when she encountered a repaired wall:

The smoothed edges of the stones at the far left are just a bit different from the hand-hacked ends of the presumably original CCC work on the right side of the photo.  Here's another photo by Christy of an original CCC wall:

The edges of the stones have been chiseled and hacked to approximately square them off, but they are certainly not smooth like their modern counterparts.  (Notice also how the capstones on this descending wall have been overlapped to minimize entry of water into the structure - nicely done).

One additional photo by Rachel is for me very instructive:

Here she captured an interruption in the modern restoration work, revealing how underneath the stairway is a slanting wall of native rock into which "protosteps" have been chiseled to help postion and bear some weight of the added steps.  Those boys in the CCC sweated mightily to get this kind of work done.

Now I think it's time for me to shut up and just let you enjoy the magnificence of the stairways, benches, retaining walls, and other CCC stonework at Watkins Glen.  First, three more photos by Flask, of the exit from a tunnel -

of a high and curving stairwell -

and of stone picnic tables in the park:

Now four more photos by reader Christy, showing a CCC wall (below Spiral Gorge) that has accumulated a menangerie of several types of lichen over the years -

Another gracefully-aged curving wall with bench (below the South Rim Trail) -

And this smorgasbord of structures (retaining walls, bench, stairs, parapets) near the Cliff Path:

And this awesome overlook below Minnehaha Falls:

When I saw the photo above, I was reminded of a comment Christy offered in her email to me: "I love how organic it appears to be, as if the glen itself grew the walls, bridges and stairs."  I quite agree.  Obviously the boys in the CCC work crews and their stonemason supervisors were blessed to have an abundance of appropriately-shaped sedimentary rock, and a natural setting in this water-carved gorge that is inherently awesome, but the way the stonework is incorporated into the natural setting is amazing.  For illustration, I offer these final two photos, first one by Christy showing the man-made wall merging into the natural one:

And then this one by Flask, up close to a curving stairway wall:

Where does nature's work end and man's begins?

Watkins Glen and other state parks were created for your enjoyment.  Use them.

A final hat tip to the photographers - Rachel (who has additional photos at her Nutrition Adventures blog), Christy (who has dozens more Watkins Glen pix in her Picasa Web Album, and Flask (of furthermore, flask) - without whose work this mega-post would not have been possible. 

27 September 2013

CCC stonework at Yellowstone Park

Earlier this summer I noted that life is too short for me to personally document all of the CCC projects, and I suggested that readers interested in the subject matter might photograph (or even write up for their own blog) CCC stonework in their community or that which they encounter on their travels.

Today, the first post resulting from that suggestion.  Reader Jan Bussey visited Yellowstone Park, and remembering my request she focused her camera on some of the stonework she encountered.
The Civilian Conservation Corps, а New Deal relief agency fоr young men, played а major role between 1933 аnd 1942 іn developing Yellowstone facilities. CCC projects included reforestation, campground development оf many оf the park's trails аnd campgrounds, trail construction, fire hazard reduction, аnd fire-fighting work. The CCC built the majority оf the early visitor centers, campgrounds аnd the current system оf park roads.
The top embedded photo is of a stone building at Madison Junction within the park.  One problem that Jan noted is that the park is older than the CCC, so that not every structure can be assumed to be the work of the CCC participants. This building clearly has a new roof (right), but the construction style - with the wall entirely made of native stone rather than faced with stone - clearly suggests an earlier date for its creation.  I did find online confirmation that CCC work was done at Madison Junction.

The Old Faithful Lodge (above) has extensive and impressive stonework, but because it was constructed in the 1920s and because the stonework is so integral to the building (fireplace, load-bearing walls), it must predate the CCC program.

Road overlooks are also prime sites for impressive stonework.  Jan photographed this one at Gibbon Falls, where there certainly has been recent restoration and repair -

And this one at Lake Jenny - done in mortarless fashion.  There was no single fashion or style of stonework common to all the CCC projects.  The administration hired local professional stonemasons to instruct the boys who came out of the inner cities and farmsteads, and each stonemason presumably had skills acquired over a lifetime on how to work with local material. 

I'll end with this photo taken at Madison Junction.  I particularly like the way the stone wall of the building was integrated into the massive stone protruding from the ground.

If other readers have photos of CCC stonework in Yellowstone, I can append them here later.  Jan Bussey's other photographs are displayed in galleries at her Cascade Exposures website.

I believe two readers (Flask and Christy) are currently compiling  photos of CCC stonework at Watkins Glen.  Stay tuned.
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