Historic Structure Report: CCC Buildings
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Bandelier National Monument came into being on February 11, 1916, under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Department of Agriculture, as a part of Santa Fe National Forest. Bandelier was a well-known archeological area and one of a group of southwestern sites for which Representative John Lacey of Iowa and archeologists such as Edgar Hewett and Jesse Nusbaum fought for federal protection. [1] Even as early as 1888, the Bandelier area, under the names of City of Cliffs and later Pajarito National Park, was proposed for national park status. Finally, in 1916, Woodrow Wilson signed the bill setting the area aside as a national monument to protect "certain prehistoric aboriginal ruins . . . of unusual ethnologic, scientific and educational interest." [2] Included in the monument were a series of cliff dwellings and pueblo ruins in the southern section of the Pajarito Plateau. The green valley of Frijoles Canyon, the most dramatic section of the monument, contained 12th through 16th century archeological features and a permanent stream.

By September 1930, Horace Albright, director of NPS, was expanding and rounding out the national park system. Bandelier was one of a number of areas that he scrutinized for possible inclusion. [3] Albright asked archeologist Jesse Nusbaum to assist him and other park experts in studying the feasibility of including Bandelier within the national park system. Albright also wanted to consider expanding Bandelier's boundaries to include other archeological sites of similar importance in the vicinity. Nusbaum, a former superintendent of Mesa Verde National Park, was then director of the Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe and a consulting archeologist to the Park Service. In October 1930, Albright and Nusbaum, accompanied by Roger Toll (Yellowstone superintendent) and M. R. Tillotson (Grand Canyon superintendent), toured the Rio Grande valley, Puye ruins, Santa Clara Pueblo, sections of the Pajarito Plateau, Bandelier, Cochiti Pueblo, Bland, Valle Grande, and Jemez Pueblo to assess the various resources and their suitability to the national park system. [4]

Jesse Nusbaum favored having Puye ruins included in any national park proposal. He noted that visitation at Puye was considerably higher than at Frijoles Canyon in Bandelier. Puye had easier access, and most people could see at least part of the ruins there. [5] The only access into Frijoles Canyon was down a steep foot trail. One look at the trail turned away many, who peered over the edge of the canyon and decided that the climb was too difficult. Neither the beauty of the canyon nor the small hotel at its base could draw the less hardy visitor. Director Albright felt that Bandelier should remain a national monument and that legislation for including it in the national park system should include a provision for acquiring the more accessible Puye. Albright saw a need to protect the rights of the Indians in the Santa Clara Pueblo as well as a need to give "the Park Service the same opportunity for protection of the ruins and for the handling of the visitors in these areas." [6] Albright asked Nusbaum, as consulting archeologist to NPS, to proceed cautiously with negotiations with USFS and the local Indian agent. Albright sought a solution acceptable to all parties. [7]

Nusbaum did proceed. USFS agreed to the proposition with one stipulation: that the Park Service work things out with the Santa Clarans. In addition, USFS was willing to trade the best dry-farm lands available in the area, immediately to the west in Jemez National Forest, for Puye. They understood that the people of Santa Clara Pueblo had wanted these lands. [8]

In early February 1932, the Santa Clarans decided not to allow NPS to take over management of Puye. They agreed with the recommendation of Ed Lowrie, a newspaper writer from Washington, D.C., and an acquaintance of Nusbaum. Lowrie was working at the Brookings Institution in Washington, studying law and order in pueblo societies. He boasted to Nusbaum about his success in uniting three opposing factions in the pueblo against the Park Service in this matter. [9] The Park Service complied with the pueblo's wishes. The matter of Puye's inclusion in the national park system was dropped, to the disappointment of Albright, Nusbaum, and others. They had been hoping to have Puye cliff dwellings as Bandelier's prime visitor attraction. On February 25, 1932, Herbert Hoover signed a proclamation turning Bandelier National Monument over to the Park Service, enlarging it to include nearby Otowi and Tsankawi ruins and excluding it from Santa Fe National Forest. [10]

When Bandelier came under Park Service jurisdiction, it became part of the Southwestern Monuments — a group of 14 national monuments and reserves — under the superintendency of Frank "Boss" Pinkley. Boss's headquarters were in Coolidge, Arizona. From there Pinkley traveled extensively, managing his resources and his talented, dedicated personnel with, as he termed it, "microscopic" funding. Among the early management actions he undertook for Bandelier was the appointment of one Park Service employee to run the area. He chose Edgar Rogers, a ranger who had been working in the Southwestern Monuments for several years.

On June 13, 1932, Edgar Rogers, the first custodian of Bandelier, arrived. He and his wife, Gay, moved into the leaky old Forest Service ranger residence — one of a group of buildings in the canyon — and set up a small office. Four days later, he put in his first modest request to the procurement office of the Southwestern Monuments and asked for some simple supplies to run his new monument: two flags, a 70-foot flag rope, stationery, a gum eraser, and paper clips. [11] Most of Rogers's time was taken up in guiding tours of the ruins for the visitors who did make it down into the canyon. Rogers was called back to Arkansas about a month later because of his father's death. Gay began leading the tours as a volunteer while her husband was gone. She was such a smash that Director Albright wrote her a congratulatory letter at the end of the summer praising her fine work. Edgar, a troubled soul, wrote to Pinkley later that summer: "From what Gay writes, she makes a better ranger than I. Please excuse the pencil." [12]

Because funding was so meager, Edgar Rogers's appointment as park custodian was only a summertime assignment. Pinkley took Rogers out during the winter and moved him to another Southwestern Monuments area, leaving Bandelier with problems. With the lack of federal presence, 21 Cochiti Indians took the opportunity to set up a hunting camp in Alamo Canyon to hunt deer a few days after Rogers left. George Frey, Rogers's neighbor who ran the hotel in the canyon, contacted Jesse Nusbaum in Santa Fe and apprised him of the situation. Frey and two deputy game wardens ordered the Cochiti out. The Indians complied. Nusbaum brought the matter to Director Albright's attention, and Albright questioned Pinkley about the lack of full-time Park Service staffing. The need for better federal control of the monument was evident. Bandelier was never again left without NPS personnel after that winter. [13]

In a regional context, the need for development of the Southwestern Monuments became so overwhelming that Albright and others planned for more personnel and better facilities to manage and protect the resources and to accommodate the growing numbers of visitors. Because so much would be going on in the Southwest, and Santa Fe was more centrally located, Horace Albright had mentioned to Boss Pinkley the possibility of moving the headquarters for the Southwestern Monuments to Santa Fe. Bandelier and Canyon de Chelly were gearing up for development, and a land situation at Chaco needed some resolution. Also, the Laboratory of Anthropology was a regional archeological center, and Albright felt that it would be to the advantage of NPS to be closely allied with an organization of such similar interests. Nusbaum had even written to Alfred Kidder to see if the laboratory could give office space to Pinkley. Although Boss chose to remain in Coolidge for the time being, this early movement resulted in the establishment of NPS's Region III headquarters in Santa Fe several years later to serve those needs. [14]

Bandelier had been a limited tourist attraction for some time when NPS took control of the area. George and Evelyn Frey arrived in Frijoles Canyon in 1925 and bought their property from Judge Abbott and his wife, who had been living there since 1907. The Freys expanded some of the buildings of the small dude ranch they acquired from the Abbotts and built additional ones. The Freys's first house was near the rito (creek). They later moved up the canyon, closer to the Tyuonyi ruins. Other historic occupation of note included a cabin ruin toward the southeast end of the canyon proper and a circular stone floor to the southeast of Tyuonyi.

The Freys's development consisted of a small lodge for tourists, quarters for the help, six cabins, two bathrooms, a barn and chicken yard, a workshop, a storage room, a garden, and an orchard. Another larger barn, with a loft and an apartment, was built later. The Freys had multiple occupations — running the lodge in the tourist season and raising chickens, ducks, horses, mules, and cattle. They raised the smaller animals in the canyon and ran about 20 head of cattle on South Mesa. They had an extensive orchard and garden, which they irrigated with water from a ditch dug by the Abbotts. The orchard had plum, cherry, nectarine, peach, apple, and pear trees. They raised stock and produce for their lodge and themselves. Because no road into the canyon existed, they brought in supplies, luggage, and linen by a tramway that Mr. Frey constructed. The tram had phones at the top and bottom. When visitors arrived in groups, such as the Harvey Indian Detours (a touring operation allied with the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway), they phoned from the top. [15] The wrangler then rode up, met the group, loaded the luggage on the tram, and brought the tourists down on horseback. [16] The hotel did a reasonable business, and a 1925 tour guide put out by USFS noted the attraction of a "small ranch hotel on the banks of the Rito." [17] By 1929, visitors to the canyon numbered 3,200, despite the difficulty of access. [18]

Part of Albright's plan in establishing a Park Service presence in Bandelier to protect the resources and allow better visitor access involved constructing a road into the canyon. Boss Pinkley, NPS Chief Architect Tom Vint, and landscape architect Charles Richey studied development possibilities on a visit to the monument in June 1932. [19] They began discussions and schematic drawings.

After a couple of months at the monument, custodian Rogers wrote to Pinkley:

We like our monument a lot but it is not perfect. The trail from the top of the hill to the floor of the canyon is the one we like the least. From careful inquiry I think I am safe in saying that at least 15% of the visitors do not even attempt the descent after they have driven to the top. While the trail is only five-eighths of a mile long, it is very steep. Then there is a walk of two miles or more up and down the ruins. Of course, there are always a few people who would not walk a small distance to see anything. [20]

In his typically meek fashion, Rogers only hinted about his monument's need for a road. Verne Chatelain, the chief historian for NPS, also visited the site. He concluded that, although Bandelier might not be the most unusual archeological site in the Southwest, the monument had greater possibilities for "popular treatment" than any other southwestern area. He wrote to the chief engineer Kittredge that a road into the canyon should be built, and soon. [21]

The general consensus in NPS was that the road was necessary, but the subject of a road into the canyon was a sensitive local issue. NPS Chief Engineer Frank Kittredge sent his assistant Walter Attwell out to review options for the road but asked him to do it quietly, avoiding public contacts and fielding all questions to Pinkley and Nusbaum. [22] Custodian Rogers had left for his winter assignment elsewhere in the Southwestern Monuments. In response to a query from Director Albright, undoubtedly prompted by local concern, Kittredge wrote that Attwell was ascertaining "the possibilities of routes of various types and standards and their costs and that he is not making a survey." [23]

By October 1932, acting director A.E. Demaray was writing to Jesse Nusbaum asking him to make discreet inquiries on local feelings toward a road into the canyon. Both Boss Pinkley and Verne Chatelain felt that opposition came from a group in Santa Fe. [24] Pinkley, who never seemed to lack an opinion on any subject, had written earlier in a letter to Albright:

I am looking for a small group of conservatives . . . to start an insurrection about the time we start that road . . . I have gone over the situation a good many times so I am going to push it ahead I don't see the sense of keeping 15,000 people a year out of that canyon and making the 4,000 people who go there walk down and up that trail, when the road would make things so easy and could be so located as to not be seen from the inside of the canyon at all. I am willing to go pretty far to be artistic and hold things after the old styles, but if those conservatives want to hold things just as they used to be around Santa Fe, they will have to go to business every morning with about 60 pounds of pot metal armor on and ride mules instead of automobiles when they travel. The mud hut nuts are all right and I am for them, but we can't refuse 15,000 visitors admission into a national monument just because the Spanish didn't use automobiles 300 year ago: it just doesn't make sense. [25]

Nusbaum's formal response to the director's inquiry recommended that NPS hold off on constructing the road until the political climate became more favorable and the park was permanently staffed. He wrote that not only the artists in Santa Fe protested the road, but also others "in all walks of life who have always thought of Frijoles as a sanctuary that should never be entered by automobile highway." [26] The Santa Fe New Mexican, owned by U.S. Senator Bronson Cutting, also pushed for the canyon to remain relatively pristine. [27] Demaray responded that the Park Service had a responsibility to make the canyon accessible to all visitors, and that "the practice of the Bureau of the Budget is to grant increased expenditures for personnel only after the number of visitors is such as to make an increase overwhelmingly necessary. And it is not hard to see that the easiest way to get visitors to Bandelier is by building a good road." [28] The Park Service's stance on how Bandelier would be developed was becoming evident: the agency saw the road as absolutely necessary to increase visitation and thereby increase personnel and justify development.


When the Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) Act passed on March 21, 1933, creating what became known as the Civilian Conservation Corps or CCC, Bandelier was one of the few NPS areas with no master plan. Because of its placement under NPS only a year earlier, Bandelier had only minimal direction in its development scheme. Early NPS directors Stephen Mather and Horace Albright had both stressed the importance of park planning, and most park areas were equipped with six-year master plans. [29] With the passage of the ECW Act, which provided personnel and some funding, NPS now had the ability to complete long-term projects, the designs of which were sitting on Park Service shelves waiting to be implemented. Areas with existing master plans began work quickly. Bandelier's early projects were done in a more spontaneous fashion: its first six-year plan did not exist until more than one year later. [30]

The CCC had multiple purposes: to train unskilled men and improve their morale by giving them productive work in national and state forests, parks, and related areas; and to improve the economy by providing work relief. Enrollees signed up through the Department of Labor, were moved, fed, and housed by the Army; and were sent to work for the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture. Robert Fechner, director of the CCC, provided specific guidelines for work that could be done by the CCC. Approved, with certain limitations, were the following types of work:

construction and repair of structures such as trail and campground shelters, comfort stations, custodian's residences, and other minor facilities that would enhance visitor use

construction and maintenance of campground facilities (picnic tables, fireplaces, pavilions, and so on)

construction and maintenance of bridges (connected with the park road system) and trails

construction and repair of water supply systems and waste disposal facilities

construction and maintenance of park roads

construction and maintenance of dams

construction and maintenance of fire towers and other fire control features [31]

A formidable battery of men oversaw CCC projects in the western national parks. Arno Cammerer, who had replaced Horace Albright as director of NPS, approved all park-related CCC projects after Chief Forester John D. Coffman reviewed them. Frank Kittredge, the chief engineer, Verne Chatelain, the chief historian; and Thomas Vint, the chief architect, kept a close eye on all park developments, deciding among themselves how park facilities could best be built to serve the dual mandate of resource protection and visitor use. Kittredge's and Vint's offices reviewed and signed off on all construction drawings, whether done in their offices, as was frequently the case, or done in the field by engineers and landscape architects. [32] District inspectors examined CCC projects and camp conditions usually monthly and reported their findings to Washington. The normal chain of command for park CCC projects consisted of a project supervisor overseeing and coordinating the work of an engineer, a forester, a landscape architect, and various technicians. [33]

The development of park structures and facilities was guided by standards of architecture and landscape architecture that had gelled under the direction of Chief Architect Tom Vint. From the earliest days of NPS, architects, landscape architects, and Park Service directors all had definite ideas about the sorts of structures they felt were suitable for national parks. Great landscape architects of the private sector such as James S. Pray of Harvard University, J. Horace McFarland of the American Civic Association, and Frederick Law Olmsted lobbied for appropriate development in national park areas. Their efforts paid off when the Park Service issued its first statement of policy. On May 13, 1918, NPS called for harmonizing all improvements such as roads, trails, and buildings with the landscape. The policy required the "employment of trained engineers who possess either a knowledge of landscape architecture or have a proper appreciation of the aesthetic value of park lands." In addition, the statement required that all improvements be done "in accordance with a pre-conceived plan developed in special reference to the preservation of the landscape." [34]

Drawing from this first statement of policy, experimentation in building style and site design throughout the 1920s resulted in the formulation of the principles of what is now termed rustic architecture. Vint pulled recent graduates and young apprentice architects and landscape architects into the Park Service and schooled them on the job in this type of environmental design.

The basic precept of rustic architecture — or parkitecture, as it was sometimes called — was that any structure built in a park should harmonize with its environment. This principle applied to everything: fireplaces, picnic tables, comfort stations, ranger cabins, large visitor centers, and community buildings. The structure harmonized with its natural environment through the use of on-site or locally available materials, such as granite and massive timbers in Yosemite. The structure also related to the surrounding topography through shape and form — by being designed to fit the small promontory on the edge of the Grand Canyon, for example. In addition, the structure reflected local cultural traditions through the use of simple stylistic elements, such as the flat roofs and projecting vigas (peeled log beams) of pueblo revival architecture in the Southwest.

Most often, the structure was designed to be subservient to its environment. Because of the blend of the materials with the setting, the careful incorporation of the building's form with its site, the frequent emphasis on horizontality through the use of battered stone walls, and the use of other natural materials such as exposed wood, buildings merged so well with sites that they often looked as if they had grown out of the landscape rather than having been constructed on it. Careful landscape planning — down to staining rocks to make them appear weathered — contributed greatly to the overall effect. Sometimes buildings emphasized the natural setting, such as at Chiricahua National Monument; other times they more strongly reflected the cultural traditions, such as at Bandelier. Rustic architecture was not a style, even though its practitioners often referred to it as such. Rather, it was a design ethic that incorporated any number of styles from pueblo revival to colonial revival depending on where a structure was built. [35]

Pinkley sent the first request for an ECW camp at Bandelier to the director a month after the CCC was established. Walter Attwell, the floating engineer out of Kittredge's shop in San Francisco, had written to Boss Pinkley requesting a camp to perform trail construction and fire protection at Bandelier. Attwell believed that Bandelier deserved a camp, especially considering that camps already existed at Great Smoky Mountains, Glacier, Sequoia, and Platte national parks. [36] Pinkley wrote to Albright with his request three days later. [37] Edgar Rogers, Bandelier's custodian, had similar ideas. He recommended to Pinkley that they get money for an entrance road and other improvements first, then for administration buildings and living quarters, possibly through the National Industrial Recovery Act. [38]

The request for the CCC camp had gone in during the spring, and by summer there was still no response from Washington. Pinkley wrote to the director again at the end of August, reinforcing his arguments. Pinkley still believed that a sufficient amount of trail work, "highway improvement," forest cleanup, and other work existed at Bandelier to justify a camp. He realized that the best time for construction was passing quickly and wrote: "I myself would much prefer to have the camp work there in the summer, but if it is a case of take a camp in winter or not get it at all, I believe we can make it efficient enough to make the attempt worthwhile." [39] A week later the approval came through with a request that Walter Attwell be made engineer in charge. [40] Associate Director Demaray wrote to Pinkley that the approval of the winter camp at Bandelier was not a problem, especially because camps at higher elevations had also been approved. [41]

With the camp approved, the wheels of bureaucracy ground into action. Pinkley recommended that the army first construct a service road into the canyon so that supplies, materials, and men could be brought into the monument more efficiently than by the old trail and tramway. [42] NPS still needed to acquire a right-of-way easement over the Ramon Vigil grant (USFS land) to build the service road. [43] The army was scheduled to begin construction of the camp on October 1, and forestry work was due to start on October 15, 1933. [44] Custodian Rogers became anxious about the size of the project and wrote to Pinkley that he saw the winter camp as a mistake. He noted that the camp needed an enormous amount of wood to heat the temporary buildings. He reminded Pinkley that under CCC regulations only small truck trails necessary for protection could be built and that the entrance road was not yet approved. He fretted that he was not even certain what the CCC would do when it arrived so late in the year. [45] His letter clearly showed how overwhelmed he felt. A week later he complained to Pinkley that the excavation and fill for the CCC barracks was leaving a scar that would be hard to eliminate once the camp was gone. [46]

Apparently Edgar Rogers's vision was not as broad as that of Pinkley and others. He did not understand that the unspoken idea was to build the road as a truck trail. This approach temporarily circumvented the required approval for an entrance road, and the increased visitation resulting from the new truck trail into the canyon would mandate subsequent development. Pinkley and others had gambled on that road. If it were built properly, leaving minimal scars, the road would provide such fine access and serve such a great purpose in putting men to work that the political opposition from Santa Fe could be placated.

Rogers was at a loss about how to manage the onslaught of the CCC and the army. His anxiety over the enormity of the situation culminated in his taking his own life in the middle of October 1933. [47] Boss telegraphed his family in Arkansas: "Seemed advisable bury Ed at Santa Fe this morning stop Committed suicide stop Apparently despondent over unfamiliar work stop No other reason discovered stop Letter follows stop Park Service extends fullest sympathy stop." [48]

After that hard blow of losing one of his people, Pinkley acted quickly. He moved his procurement officer from Coolidge into the position of acting custodian. Martin O. Evenstad arrived toward the end of October 1933 and took over the task of running the monument and mobilizing the CCC. [49]

Evenstad set up a general office and a drafting room for engineer Attwell and landscape architect Lyle Bennett in cabins 1 and 6 of the old lodge. [50] The army moved in and had 30 men construct the temporary CCC camp buildings and build a waterline to supply the camp. The army officers, who had been staying in the old lodge cabins, moved into the new temporary buildings, and the CCC began moving in about November 5-7, 1933. [51]

Early projects for the CCC that winter included eradicating tent caterpillars from the canyon, installing and repairing a phone line, constructing a 12-foot-wide truck trail into the canyon, renovating the old ranger cabin, constructing trails and drift fences, fencing the detached area, removing barns and other buildings in the canyon, and repairing the ruins. [52] From December through April, men from the Civil Works Authority (CWA) also worked in the monument. Under CWA funding, they widened the 12-foot CCC truck trail to 22 feet.

The first car drove into the canyon on December 9, 1933. As Acting Custodian Evenstad recorded, the honor of riding down in that first car "was reserved for Engineer Attwell, and Mrs. Frey, who runs the Frijoles Canyon Ranch hotel, and who said she had waited for this ride for nine years. Althou the road as yet is only passable, most of us chose the road in preference to the 'long, long trail.'" [53] Boss Pinkley now had his entrance road completed and a 200-man camp ready to continue work. His scheme was falling into place.

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Last Updated: 08-May-2005