Historic Structure Report: CCC Buildings
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A few site modifications have occurred over the years, some of which have slightly altered the character of the area. Despite these changes, the district retains nearly all of its original feeling and character (figure 141).

Although the physiographic features have remained the same, major changes have been made to the parking area. Landscape structures such as paving and curbing have been altered to accommodate changing visitor use or replace deteriorated material, or both. Through a long period of neglect, vegetation has overgrown original confines and encroached upon structures, visitor areas, and vistas. Exterior drainage has not been successful. A diversion ditch built to protect the rear of the cabin and lodge area is often overrun by heavy rains, causing talus slope movement, flooding, and subsequent seepage into the building walls.

Figure 141. Existing site map. (click on image for a enlargement in a new window)


Although the entrance road has undergone only minimal change, parking in the headquarters area has changed over time to accommodate additional spaces. At first, this area had 27 parallel parking spaces. The diagonal parking capacity was increased by 40 cars by cutting into the center island.

In general, pedestrian paths have retained their original configurations, although new ones have been added to accommodate changing functions and increased visitation. A new bridge, constructed in the 1950s, crosses the rito south of the location of the original bridge. This new bridge provides access to the picnic area and backpacker parking area in the former campground.

Landscape Structures and Related Features

The condition of the landscape structures varies throughout the developed area. Some replacement walls, steps, and flagstone areas look original at first glance, but critical examination reveals some differences.

Because of the degradation of the flagstone over time through spalling and chipping, and because of changes in configuration brought about by more recent construction, new areas paved with flagstone now exist (figure 142). The replacement flagstone does not match the original in color or shape. The sandstone replacement is much redder, and the paver sizes are larger.

Figure 142. Landscape structures map. (click on image for a enlargement in a new window)

Curbs have been replaced around the parking area. The general appearance of the new curbing is different from the original: it is a brighter color, and its edges are sharper than the original curb's.

Several alterations to paths and paving materials have been made in response to a need for handicapped accessibility. A new surface has been added to the original walkway on the south side of the parking area. The original gravel walk south of the parking area now has a flagstone surface. The new walkway west and north of the visitor center is a gently sloped path that makes a portion of the cabin area accessible by wheelchair. A new brick walk and steps have been built north of the visitor center. The stone floor of the patio of the snack bar has been raised to accommodate wheelchair access to the snack bar.

In addition to paving, other historic landscape features still exist. However, some nonhistoric landscape features, such as bright yellow fire hydrants and green walk lights, have been added throughout the headquarters area. They are minor intrusions now, in the midst of the heavy vegetative growth, but as vegetation is thinned, these features will stand out much more. In addition, lights, tall light poles, and a television antenna show above the view of the historic facade of the administration building.


After passing various levels of aridity along the route to Bandelier National Monument, visitors form a first impression that this canyon is extremely lush. Dense growth dwarfs the buildings and hides the structures from the visitors' view as they drive down the approach road. This growth breaks up and masks the buildings mass and interrupts direct views of the cliffs that serve as backdrops to the masonry walls. Many trees are unusually heavily branched at eye level, and low shrub growth is quite dense. Much of the shrub growth is volunteer and has little historic value. This heavy eye-level growth, however, also hides the mass of automobiles in the parking area (figures 143 and 144).

visitor center
Figure 143. The front facade of the visitor center at the original drive-through, 1940. The opening has now been filled in. Many evergreen trees and native grass have been replaced with rank deciduous trees and refining lawn.

visitor center
Figure 144. The front facade of the visitor center, 1988. Note the dense growth hiding much of the architecture.

This heavy vegetation causes several problems. The dense shading of wood architectural features causes deterioration of wood members, which can lead to insect infestation and rot. The roots of trees and the trees themselves press against buildings and crack the stone walls. In addition, the dense shading slows the drying of wood and masonry surfaces.

Although the refined lawn at the visitor center provides a green carpet for visitor use, research has shown that the lawn is native grass gathered by Fulton and his crews from the mesa top. It has gradually taken on a dense sod appearance from watering and fertilizing. The lawns in the cabin courtyards and around the residences have been similarly altered, but to a lesser degree.

Much of the shrub growth and box elder tree growth is volunteer. Because historical information on plant materials that the CCC used was limited, we can only surmise the extent and type of vegetation at the close of the CCC efforts. The plant lists give us the scope of the available plant material.

A list of existing trees covering the compound and residential area has been developed (see appendix A). Their location and caliper have been indicated on maps of the various areas (see figure 145).

Figure 145. Existing vegetation map. (click on image for a enlargement in a new window)

Some existing trees were found to have been planted originally by the CCC plantsman; it is recommended that they be held in higher esteem than recent volunteer plants. To determine which trees were original (either planted or undisturbed) to the CCC era without the benefit of initial planting plans or plant lists, various techniques were used.

One technique was to compare existing trees with those in early 1940s site photographs. These same trees then become a standard minimum size for other trees in the area.

A second technique was to determine the largest caliper per species that can be moved with a maximum ball size of 3 feet and then add the appropriate growth rate to this size to arrive at the trunk caliper expected today. Each species, of course, has a slight variance above and below the average trunk caliper.

This reasoning, coupled with interviews with the forester in charge of the CCC-era planting, led to the following list of probable original trees.

TreesMinimum trunk caliper

Box elder16
Douglas fir12
Juniper 3
Oak 3
Pinon pine 4
Ponderosa pine12

This classification is judged 90 to 95 percent accurate and will probably remain so unless original planting plans or plant lists are uncovered. If discrepancies between recent and original trees occur, they will be at the gray area or break point in trunk caliper sizes. Factors such as growth stimulants and growth constraints affect the growth characteristics of these trees.

Based on this breakdown of tree age, approximately 60 percent of trees in the headquarters area (see figure 145) are of the CCC era. Of course, many more trees were planted but succumbed to disease, drought, and human hands.


The diversion ditch uphill from the northern tier of cabins currently does not drain to the catch basin. The ditch is so porous that even a downpour immediately percolates into the ground. In addition, major downpours create a soil erosion condition that fills the ditch and the courtyards. In view of the porosity of the soil on this slope, moisture should percolate down to bedrock. However, in some isolated areas it does not percolate, and moisture seeps into building walls. The subsurface soil under the trench is a maze of utility lines (see figure 146).

Figure 146. Existing storm drainage map. (click on image for a enlargement in a new window)

Foundation problems and their probable causes are as follows:

In B-2, walls are wet because water is concentrated between buildings.

In B-6, wet walls and viga deterioration have been caused by reverse grading.

In B-16, wet walls are caused by water sheeting off the new roof and percolating to the base of the wall. The diversion ditch runs the wrong way here.

In B-19, a major problem with wet walls is caused by the canale that drains to the northeast side of the building, where water ponds and percolates down outside the building.

In B-23, wet walls are probably due to water draining to the hole adjacent to the building wall and to bad grading.

Sheet drainage from roofs via canales generally works well. Where roof drainage pours into large courtyards, the drainage usually works. Canales that empty into tiny courtyards have flooding problems because the inlet openings in the drainage pipes are small. Drop inlets have been provided, but generally they are not directly under the canale. The resultant solutions are makeshift piping and eroding gullies. This problem apparently was recognized in the 1940s; additional drop inlets and lines were proposed but never installed.

The historic drop inlets tie into 6-inch vitrified clay pipe, which is susceptible to clogging, is hard to clean out, and could overflow in a heavy rain.

These drainage lines run between drop inlets in courtyards to parking areas or tap into major drain lines. They are too few, undersized, and inaccessible. One of the lines — a 24-inch concrete line — serves its function well and could be better used.

Drainage across parking areas and roads has not been a problem, and maintenance requirements are minimal.

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Last Updated: 08-May-2005