DEVELOPMENT OF ROCKY MOUNTAIN REGION ADMINISTRATIVE ARCHITECTURE
Much of the administrative history of the Forest Service in Colorado can be read in its architecture. So closely are the two linked, that it was said in 1913, "All improvements planned for the future have a direct bearing on the protection of the Forests...it is almost impossible to determine where one leaves off and the other begins" (Philips 1913:2). As this mission of protection turned to one of resource management, Forest Service architecture changed with it. The architecture of Region 2 was influenced by various national and local architectural trends and construction practices. The following section is a brief history of these influences.
During the earliest days of the Forest Service, America abandoned the Victorian style and Greek and Roman Revivals and adopted new styles reflective of a burgeoning conservation movement. The styles of the Arts and Crafts Movement idealized nature and showed a strong sense of environmental awareness and a love of organic (natural) forms and materials (Whiffen 1992). Slightly later the Rustic Style, which perhaps best exemplified the ideals of the conservation movement, became a popular style for vacation homes and lodges in the Adirondacks. This uniquely American movement was characterized by its regional building techniques and use of native materials that blended with the environment (Throop 1979:31).
Several Federal agencies adapted the style for their buildings. By 1918 the newly created National Park Service in its quest for a national image had created its own unique brand of Rustic architecture. This particular style combined the stylistic principles of the Arts and Crafts Movement with vernacular architectural forms and landscape principles of Romantic design. The Forest Service had always used local materials, traditional building techniques, and respect for the land in construction of administrative buildings. Though the utilitarian design of the Forest Service is not "high style" design by most standards, much Regional architecture is nonetheless highly Rustic in its expression of these basic Forest Service values.
Much of the architecture of Colorado before 1900 was constructed with no formal architectural style. Utility, time, and the availability of materials were the principal forces behind their method of construction and appearance. Formal architectural expression and detailing were generally the locally adapted variations of the "true" style. Depending largely on the availability of milled lumber, houses were wood frame or log construction. Both building types were characterized with moderate- to steep-pitched gable roofs, deep overhangs, and minimal ornamentation. Many log cabins built in the mountains after the 1880s emulated the Rocky Mountain Cabin Style, which experienced its zenith in the 1920s (Wilson 1984). Appendix B includes a more complete description of this style. By 1905, the Rustic style was popular throughout the state (Pearce 1983:70).
Formal architectural expression in Colorado tended to appear first in Denver, the headquarters of the Rocky Mountain Region of the Forest Service since 1908. Bungalow-style buildings, solid and unpretentious, were introduced to the Denver area as early as 1901. The unpretentious Bungalow Style was well fitted to the cultural and environmental climate of Colorado, as it stressed comfort, functional utility, and the use of natural materials. This style was one of a series which originated from the Arts and Crafts Movement of the early twentieth century. As such, it was one of the progenitors of modern architecture. Characteristics of this style included: low-pitch overhung gable roofs, exposed rafters, knee-braced eaves, divided upper window lights, and large porches. Earning quick popularity for its rugged, low-maintenance design, the bungalow became the architectural symbol of the common man, and from 1910 to 1930 the bungalow was one of Denver's predominant residential architectural forms (Noel 1987:67).
In the 1920s, Denver architects experimented with a variety of revivalist styles. The Pueblo Style was inspired by the pueblo architecture of southwest Colorado, including that seen at Mesa Verde National Park, of Santa Fe, and of Taos, a complex of rectangular adobe dwellings in northern New Mexico (Noel 1987:75). Architects emulated the flat roofs and battered stucco wails, sometimes incorporating stylized projecting roof rafters (vigas) and straight-headed windows for an authentic appearance.
The Art Deco Style, introduced in Denver in the 1930s, was characterized by fluted zigzag lines and horizontal banding in low relief. Fully modern in philosophy, Art Deco broke from the former philosophy of adapting past styles to meet present architectural requirements.
The architecture of the Forest Service in Colorado during what has been called the Service's custodial era (1900-1950) can be grouped into three eras. The first era (Phase I) could be called the pre-design era. Incorporating buildings built from the inception of the Forest Reserves until the start of formal design within the Forest and Regional engineering divisions in about 1910, Phase I administrative buildings predominantly reflect the pioneer traditions of their builders.
The second era (Phase II) could be called the pre-CCC era. This era runs from approximately 1911 to 1933, the start of the CCC. During this era, Regional and Forest designers established a formal architectural vocabulary, based primarily upon the Bungalow, Arts and Crafts and Rustic styles. Though based upon formal architectural plans, pioneer construction methods are common.
The third era (Phase III) encompassed the CCC era, from 1933-1942. During this era of unprecedented administrative expansion, the Architectural Division, created in 1936 developed its own interpretation of the Rustic Style. Construction of this era, predominantly executed by New Deal labor, is typified by its standardized design, rustic appearance and labor-intensive composition.
Though built in very different times and of a wide variety of styles, materials and construction techniques, all Regional architecture is linked by its common expression of such Forest Service ideals as simplicity, harmony with nature, and the use of natural materials. This expression is also reflective of the philosophy of local administration of lands that has exemplified Forest management since its inception, and of the physical and cultural landscape of Colorado itself. Lookouts exemplify these ideals also, but express functionality to the exclusion of any stylistic influence.
Phase I: 1891-1910
Phase I, the pre-design phase, begins with the creation of the Forest Reserves in 1891 and ends with the start of the protection/custodial era and the development of standardized plans in about 1910. Early rangers and supervisors were often political appointees, local residents who were untrained, inexperienced, and who faced uncertain tenure in their new profession (Reini 1931:10). They found that the size of area, the topography, and the absence of roads and trails made it impossible to cover their districts (Hinton 1988:II-42). Construction of administrative buildings began almost immediately after the Reserves were created in 1891. A one- or two-room cabin, barn, corral, and flagpole were considered all that early rangers needed. The spatial relationships between the barn, cabin, and corrals were similar to that of typical homestead layout.
Administrative buildings were largely reflective of the rangers' personal preferences, as well as the materials, tools, and amount of time available to them. Thus, these and all other buildings evaluated that had no apparent stylistic influences on appearance or construction are described as "Pioneer." Frame buildings were reflective of the Colorado vernacular tradition of simple, front-gabled, minimally ornamented buildings. This type of construction was often found on commercial buildings of the era (Pearce 1983:3). Log construction was diverse, with local building tradition and ethnic influences adding to the variability with which the logs were cut, prepared, and laid up. One common element in the log construction of Phases I and II is construction in the Rocky Mountain Cabin typology as defined by Wilson (1984). This includes single pen configurations, rock foundations, and low to moderately pitched gable roofs that overhung the entrance. Other pioneer cabins exhibited gabled "L" or square configurations. Most buildings were heated with stoves or fireplaces.
One of the first ranger stations on what would later become District 2 (Region 2) was the Alta Ranger Station on the Bitter Root Forest Reserve. The station was constructed using the rangers' personal funds (Joslin 1994:1). By 1903, the nation's first forest ranger (William Kreutzer) was constructing ranger cabins on the Grand Mesa, then the Battlement Forest Reserve (Figure 8). Kreutzer enlisted the help of nearby rangers in the construction, a common practice during the first and second phases. The Reserve's tool cache consisted of six axes and six shovels (Cayton 1925:3).
It was during 1903 that the nation's first officially funded ranger station was constructed, appropriately enough, on the nation's first National Forest, the Shoshone. Improvements at the Wapiti Ranger Station consisted of a log office building and three-room log dwelling. No Phase I offices were evaluated.
In 1906, the Reserve Engineering Section was formed by the USFS. This division, consisting of civil engineers and draftsmen, supervised all engineering work on Reserves done by Forest Service or private interests (U.S. Department of Agriculture 1990:3). In Light vs. USFS, settled that year, the court established once and for all the Forest Service's obligation to govern the use of Forest resources. The resultant increase in supervision of grazing and other activities on the Forests intensified the need for administrative buildings.
Gifford Pinchot established a set of values for guiding the administration of the newly designated National Forests. These included utility, conservation, and respect for the land, and they were to guide all aspects of Forest Service development, including its architecture. They were outlined in The Use Book (Pinchot 1908), which also contained the first official guidelines for the development of administrative sites.
Pinchot also established a ranger exam to eliminate undesirable ranger candidates. Applicants were expected, among other things, to be able to handle an axe and were tested on their knowledge of cabin construction (Williams 1994). The Washington Division of Engineering was created in 1908, the same year that Forest administration was decentralized into eight Districts, each with its own Engineering Division (Steen 1976:333). The establishment of District Engineering Divisions pursuant to the goal of decentralized administration suggests that the National influence upon Divisional architecture was for the most part limited to design regulations, publications containing tips and instructions for design and construction, and improvement funding. Later, design assistance became available through the office of the USFS consulting architect.
Despite the establishment of these Divisions, "comfortable living accommodations" in District 2 were for the most part not yet a reality. San Juan Ranger C.B. Mack was perhaps more resourceful than most in his utilization of early Forest Service architecture to enforce Forest Service policy.
Uncompahgre National Forest Supervisor H.K. Porter initiated discussion on the establishment of ranger stations in his 1908 letter to the Chief Forester. Though not all of Porter's ideas were adopted, the correspondence set several design precedents in the District. Among these were the siting of ranger stations near "good schools" and "the people who use the range," the efficiency of site layout for "a minimum expense to the Forest Service," and the design of "individuality in every home...," which Porter considered "essential to the retaining of good and efficient men" (Porter 1908:3).
Concurrent to the establishment of Districts, 1908 also saw a major reorganization effort at the Forest level. Many small Forests were consolidated, and the supervisors' offices were relocated. Washington Chief Forester Clyde Leavitt solicited rangers for suitable sites for ranger stations (Leavitt 1908). Montezuma National Forest Supervisor Ress Philips responded with his plan for one station every 20,000 acres, a total of 56 stations on his Forest alone (Philips 1909:2).
District rangers were highly mobile and required accommodations near their primary type of workload, e.g., grazing, timber sales, or mining claims. The type of station (permanent, summer, or temporary) required and its location were determined by the work the rangers would oversee. Stations served as staging areas for the resupply of backcountry rangers, seasonal forest guards and lookouts (Caywood et al. 1991:24). On the Montezuma, for example, Ress Philips (1909) wrote that for District No. 7,
Temporary (guard) stations were often established at intervals of one day's ride on horseback. These were used for fire patrols and overnight camping (Philips 1909:3). Some were constructed exclusively for a timber sale (Philips 1909:6). Ranger D.E. Fitton constructed one such station on what was then the San Juan National Forest in 1906-7 (Fitton 1939:1; Figure 104, Rio Grande National Forest). The station was retained after the timber sale and remains in active use. Livestock pasturage was substantial on Region 2 (Otis et al. 1986:2); therefore, many administrative site locations echoed seasonal grazing patterns.
Important considerations for site placement included the availability of water, protection from the elements, and accessibility to mail delivery and existing or potential access to telephone lines (Philips 1909), though established phone systems were rare. The District prioritized of improvements that would most benefit area residents. As part of the Region's effort to link all stations (U.S. Forest Service 1916), many roads and phone lines in Colorado were originally established by the Service for administrative use. Several cabins constructed along line routes originally housed line crews but were later used for Forest Service administration. At Lost Man Guard Station (Figure 169, White River National Forest), the Forest Service cooperated with a local telephone company in the joint construction and use of a line/guard cabin.
Ranger James G. Cayton selected a secluded clearing near a spring for the site of his year round station (Figure 9). He began construction in the fall of 1909, enlisting the help of nearby rangers and his wife in the completion of a log barn. The Caytons then moved from their tent into the barn for the winter. The following spring, Cayton finished a three-room log dwelling with a wood stove and brick chimney, despite an admitted lack of knowledge in brick-masonry (Cayton 1940). Cayton's duties included counting and examining cattle, and issuing hunting licenses and application forms and permits for grazing and construction of hay derricks.
A good ranger could fell and prepare enough trees for a small cabin in three days. Rangers were resourceful with materials, as moving them to the job site was often the hardest part of a project (Baird 1994). Construction materials included logs, stones, gravel, and other indigenous materials found on site, as well as rough-milled and dimensioned lumber, wood stained or creosote shingles, and iron or tin roofs. Windows and shutters were fashioned on site if commercially produced windows were not available. Logs were oiled, and trim was oiled, painted, or varnished. Milled lumber was both rough-milled and commercially finished. Interior materials included processed wood products like Nu-Wood, Celotex, Plywood or Masonite, or boards. Walls and ceilings were sometimes plastered. See Appendix B for a more complete description of the architectural characteristics of Phase I.
Throughout Phase I, the mission of the Forest Service evolved from one of custodianship to one of resource management. This, and constant additions to the Forest system (Table 3) would require ever increasing numbers of Forest personnel and buildings from which they would live and work. A major effort to subdivide large forests was begun in 1910 (Williams 1991:2). This was the first national attempt to improve the newly reorganized forests, and included a major effort to establish ranger stations which corresponded to the new forest boundaries. Four hundred sixty four cabins and other improvements were constructed during 1910 (U.S. Department of Agriculture 1990:3). At a regional level, 1910 marks the start of Theodore Norcross's career within the District 2 Division of Engineering, and the Region's first documented use of "standardized" design.
Table 3. Forest Service Acreage and Employees in Colorado 1918-1955*.
*Data taken from Year Book of Colorado (1918-1955).
Phase II: 1911-1932
Phase II, the pre-CCC phase, began with the introduction of standardized plans in around 1910 and closed with the start of the New Deal. National, Regional, and Forest standardized designs were developed during this phase, reflecting constantly increasing regulation of administrative design and construction. This phase, encompassing the protective/custodial era, includes the introduction and development of fire protection measures, the start of a Forest Service recreational policy, and extensive construction of fire-control improvements, ranger and guard stations.
Need for more and larger administrative sites grew as regulation of resources intensified and Federal holdings increased. Administrative improvements began to be viewed as an inextricable part of protection for the forests (Philips 1913:2). Permanent quarters were usually located at lower elevations, and often near towns. Use of resources in the Forests, consisting primarily of timber harvesting and grazing, was heaviest during the summer at higher elevations. Much of the rangers' time was spent here until fall, when rangers moved to lower elevations to catch up on paperwork until spring. During the summer, rangers used summer quarters, which were often primitive. An "old abandoned building...will answer the purpose for some time" (Working Plan 1911). Permanent ranger stations were little better. "The supervisor's headquarters at Fraser (Arapaho National Forest) were in a small frame building (that) had also to serve as a dwelling place and by 1912 as a ranger station as well" (Black 1969:309). A typical ranger station on the Montezuma National Forest included a frame or log dwelling, barn for five horses, and a 100-acre pasture.
Despite the presence of a Regional engineering staff, many forests developed their own standardized administrative designs and employed local builders to construct them. The Montezuma National Forest developed a series of plans, called simply Plan 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. Plan 3 was a rectangular three-room dwelling, designed on a stone foundation with a pyramidal roof. A corner porch cut into the rectangular plan. From this porch, entrances led to the kitchen and living room. A bedroom was entered off the living room (Figures 10, 11). Small scrolled wood brackets on the porch pillars are the only decorative elements.
The development cost of permanent improvements had been limited by Congress in 1906 to $600 per structure. The amount was raised in the 1920s, first to $1,000, later to $1,200 (Caywood 1991:44). Even when available, these limitations sharply restricted the ability of the Region to build adequate buildings during Phase II. The $600 limitation on improvements in 1910 was sufficient to construct a small two-room frame ($400) or log ($300) house, but it was not enough to construct a larger four-room log house (Plan 200), which cost an estimated $648 (Philips 1910). The Forest Service solicited local contractors for over a year before finding one willing to construct a dwelling (Plan 3) at the Glade Ranger Station for less than $600 including labor. Materials specifications were eventually revised to reduce cost (Rittenhouse 1916).
Different forests developed distinct designs. The White River National Forest's plan for a three-room log cabin at Derby Ranger Station (Figures 12, 13) was similar in size to the Montezuma's Plan 3, but had gabled roofs. Both had a bedroom and kitchen accessible from the living room, but the kitchen of Plan 3 was almost twice the size, while the porch and bedroom were less than half the size of the White River plan.
Though none of these designs included offices, mention of three-room dwellings with one room designated as official office space is made as early as 1911 (U.S. Forest Service 1911:7). The standard dwelling plan had grown to five rooms by 1913. Architecture of the second phase was rectangular in plan, and single story. Early Forest-designed frame buildings proved "...not warm enough to be habitable" (Philips 1910:2). Consequently, designs were more substantial, incorporating roofing paper and thicker sheathing. Architecturally designed frame buildings reflected a Bungalow-style influence in their detailing, though the utilitarian nature of Regional architecture precluded "high style" design. Most roofs were gabled with moderate pitches, overhung, and supported by fully exposed rafters. Occasionally these had fascias, and gutters above the entries. Roofs had sawn shakes, metal ridge caps and finials, and were pierced only by an interior brick chimney. The dwellings often had square knee bracing to support the gable overhang. Six-inch-wide clapboard or simple drop siding had either overlapped or inlaid vertical molding at the corners. Windows (fenestration) consisted of singly arranged double-hung or sliding wood frame windows, often with Craftsman-style multi-paned upper sashes and single-paned bottom sashes. Two entries usually sat off center on the eave sides. Front entries were often flanked by one or two windows. Entries could be protected by a canopy roof or extended gable roof. They usually had only a wooden stoop with no railings. Wood paneled doors were usually half glazed, with Craftsman-style vertical glass panes. Decoration was limited to the Bungalow-style detailing on porch and roof structural support members.
Phase II log designs were similar, but had saddle-notched logs that had short crowns with flat cut ends. Logs were not hewn on any face, and required daubing with concrete or saplings, and chinking over metal lath. Construction and Maintenance Handbooks (U.S. Forest Service 1935; 1937) introduced during this phase evidently contained technical tips that included instructions for cutting several types of notches (Note 1). By the close of the era, several log buildings exhibited rudimentary elements of the Rustic Style.
Combination office buildings designed in the 1930s had two or three principal rooms. Some had a single-stall attached garage. Dwellings could have one or two bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom, and living room, as well as a cellar furnace room. Garages were never attached to the dwelling. Separated garages were always single-stall. One- or two-story barns could be frame or log, often with hay lofts. The standard paint scheme at the beginning of Phase II was "Forest (Service) Drab" with ivory or off white trim. This scheme was gradually changed to grey during the mid and late 1920s (Wahn 1927). By the late 1930s the standard was "Forest Service Cream" or tan. "Forest Service Brown" was introduced about 1933 and became standard during the next decade. Most office buildings and residences of this era were heated by stove. See Appendix B for a more complete description of the architectural characteristics of Phase II.
By 1925 the Office of Engineering was overseeing the design and construction of administrative improvements. The Office was under the supervision of District 2 Engineer Fred D. Mendenhall and his Assistant James L. Brownlee. The United States Department of Agriculture Directory, Forest Service (April 1930), stated that "Each new improvement is carefully planned, and all details of construction are carefully included in each plan" (Reini 1931:20). Forests continued to develop their architectural designs. Some went so far as to consider consulting rangers' wives in the design process (Forest History n.d.:232) Regional and forest designs exhibited increasing Bungalow Style influence through the remainder of Phase II.
Despite the careful planning described in the Directory, the finished buildings still reflected both vernacular influences and the skills and preferences of the individual builders. After Piedra District Ranger John Baird accidentally burned down the Turkey Springs Guard Station on the San Juan National Forest, he submitted a sketch for a proposed replacement to his Forest Supervisor, which was forwarded to the District Forester in Denver with a request for detailed plans and specifications. Several months later, plans (similar to the Construction and Maintenance Handbook A Series) were forwarded and construction commenced under contract and with the general supervision of Ranger Baird (Baird 1994; Figure 154, San Juan NF). Baird later recalled that he only "generally followed the construction plans," a fact verified by an inspection memorandum listing Baird's many variations from the plan (Brownlee 1930). In fact, rangers often modified construction plans, without official correspondence with the District engineers. Self-sufficient rangers held the Engineering Division in low regard (Baird 1994).
The Forest Service National Manual of Regulations and Instructions (USDA 1928:63-A) was the first national publication to address Forest Service design policy since the Use Book. It stated that dwellings would only be built when it was impractical to rent living or office space. Office space was to be provided apart from dwellings. The first regionally produced office design would appear three years later. Garages were initially for official vehicles only. During the Depression, however, garages for rangers' personal vehicles were incorporated into layouts. Evidently, Regional handbooks were published prior to 1928 but have not been found.
Public opposition to Forest Service personnel and policy continued throughout Phase II. Buildings therefore continued to blend with the local culture (Caywood 1991:18), much as they had during the first phase. The separation of office and residence had practical applications, but may also be reflective of the Forest Service's goal of integrating their rangers into the fabric of the community by physically separating them after hours from their official duties.
Standardized plans that increased the size of the average ranger dwelling also increased the average size, quality, and number of buildings per site. Formal site design and landscaping began during Phase II, but was hampered by limited water supplies at most stations (Wahn 1927). Landscape plans do not appear until Phase III, and few remaining Phase II stations exhibit indications of formal landscape design.
The introduction of designed office space in 1931 and construction of various other buildings at administrative sites increased the need for site planning. Guard stations may have had only a single one-room cabin, but typically consisted of a two- or three-room dwelling and small barn, as seen at Derby Ranger Station (Figure 14). Ranger stations had these, and after 1930, single-car garages and combination office buildings. Other improvements could include storage or wood sheds and root cellars. Layouts followed no discernible organization, but conformed to site topography. Buildings were generally constructed close together. At Thompson Creek Ranger Station the dwelling and garage were within six feet of each other (Figure 181, White River National Forest). The Alvarado Ranger Station (Figure 87, San Isabel National Forest) barn was constructed after completion of the combination office building. It not only sat in plain view of visitors, but blocked a spectacular view of the Wet Mountain Valley below (Johnson 1935:1). Only one evaluated Phase II site, the South Fork Ranger Station, once had both office and dwelling (Figure 111, Rio Grande National Forest). The house is no longer extant, leaving no known intact examples.
Nationally, architects were experimenting with standardized building components and materials to simplify design and reduce costs. The Region 2 (formerly District 2) Division of Engineering embraced these ideas and used them in the D Series, introduced around 1929. Regional construction specifications from this era specified the use of Andersen windows and door frames. This architectural "Series" was the first documented instance of standardization on a regional level. Though records are incomplete, The D Series consisted of plans for at least 9 ranger dwellings. These contained approximately 800 square feet on the main level and incorporated two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bath. They had full basements. Some plans from the Series varied from others only in their use of either log or frame walls. Some designs could be, and were, built with either wood frame or log construction. For example, a highly modified log dwelling was constructed based upon plans for a wood frame D-7 at Stub Creek Ranger Station (Figure 55, Roosevelt National Forest).
Frame designs like one constructed at Buckhorn Ranger Station (Figure 51, Roosevelt National Forest) had overhung roofs with exposed rafters and knee bracing, and divided upper window panes, all highly characteristic of residential Bungalow-style architecture. Moderate-pitch roofs and minimal ornamentation reflected the Colorado Pioneer tradition (Pearce 1983:3). Log versions like the D-9 (Figure 15) had rugged log walls set atop a stone veneer foundation. This gave the building a rugged, unrefined appearance.
Much, or possibly all, of the D Series was designed by James L. Brownlee, then District Engineer. Brownlee, a mechanical engineer, believed that incoming college-educated rangers deserved better accommodations than the Forest Service had to date provided (U.S. Department of Agriculture 1990:72). Later, Brownlee would redefine administrative design by initiating Rustic design in the Region (Johnson 1935:1). He continued to produce designs even after the creation of the Architectural Division in 1936.
At approximately the same time, the Region developed an administrative series, the result of an intensive analysis of the layout of ranger stations by the Regional Forester. The study determined that construction of separate buildings to meet the various needs of the rangers was expensive and gave a cluttered appearance to the stations. Additionally, administrative requirements were growing steadily, and it was expensive to construct separate buildings for each function. The resultant A Series Administrative Buildings combined several functions in one building and were designed "...with the idea of standardizing...which will meet the administrative needs of any station" (Stahl 1930a). Their estimated total cost of construction was less than $1000.
Designed as rectangular gable roof frame buildings, "Combination Buildings" combined office, bedroom, wood shed, and tool and storage space. They fulfilled the needs of office, storage, and living quarters when built in remote locations. At stations that already had living quarters, the bedroom was used to quarter visiting personnel, often forest or regional supervisors who otherwise would have had to bunk with the ranger and his family.
One design included a single-stall garage. The introduction of vehicles to Colorado significantly altered the way Forests were used and administered. Rangers had always been required instead to own their own saddle horses (Caywood 1991:25). By the 1930s, rangers were required to own their own vehicles, the personal use of which was strictly regulated by the Service (Baird 1994). Vehicles helped stimulate a road construction boom in the 1920s that resulted in increased recreational use and timber and mineral extraction. Rangers used vehicles to expedite their fieldwork, and their families enjoyed easier access to the supplies and social contact available within nearby communities (Caywood 1991:35). This initiated an administrative policy shift that resulted in the consolidation of districts and the replacement of full-time rural ranger stations with seasonal or temporary stations manned by rangers who lived in town.
Other designs in the series, like that seen at Square Top Guard Station (Figure 6) differed in layout and dimension, but all had a similar exterior appearance that was influenced, as were the designs from the dwelling series, by the Bungalow Style. The informal Bungalow-style front porch was eliminated, as the buildings were "merely a temporary stopping place..." and the "necessity (for a porch) is not great" (French 1933). This belief was supported by the Washington-based USFS architects (Groben 1938:53). Despite this, the use of substantial though informal porches and stoops in Regional design became almost standard during Phase III. Designs were available with or without a chimney. At least 7 A Series designs were produced. Plans were evidently printed in the Construction and Maintenance Handbook. The functional and efficient plans were re-engineered, expanded, and constructed well into Phase III.
The Region began constructing dwellings from the D Series at summer stations in the early 1930s. Though stylistically identical to the smaller administrative designs of the A Series, the dwellings were significantly larger. Immensely popular, the D Series dwellings were hailed as a new standard in ranger station design (Johnson 1935:1).
Builders utilized both materials found on site and commercially available products like shingles and framing lumber (Permanent Improvement Estimate and Working Plan 1911). A Series specifications called for poured-concrete foundations, exterior walls of commercially produced milled lumber, interior walls of "compo" board, and split shingled roofs. "Compo" board was one of a variety of processed wood construction products. Plans for the similar M20 Combination Building (Figure 16), which was basically an A-5 plan with a brick chimney, specified Andersen windows. Log building plans specified the diameter of logs, though not the species. Interiors consisted of ordinary wood boards or processed wood products with brand names such as Beaverboard, C-X, and Nu-Wood. Most designs included plans for a wood- or coal-burning stove. The total cost for materials was about $600, delivered.
Forest Supervisors often volunteered after-hours labor to complete the buildings within limitations (Philips 1913:24). This practice would continue throughout and following the Depression. Rangers also sometimes used laborers from county welfare recipient rosters (Baird 1994). By 1912, most rangers in Region 2 were specially trained (Hinton 1988:IV-4), many at the nation's first schools of Forestry on the east coast. These men probably lacked the pioneer construction skills that early Colorado rangers had. Contractors built many stations constructed during the second phase, though few records have been found that document this aspect of administrative construction. Cooperative agreements between public and private companies resulted in joint construction, custodianship, or use of several buildings. See for example (Blair 1916; Stahl 1930b).
Despite the detailed construction plans produced for both the A and D Series, many variables still affected the final appearance of Phase II designs. As intended, the layouts of standardized plans were modified by forests, though stylistic modifications were not allowed, as they disrupted the visual harmony of the design (French 1933). Variability in the availability of funds, materials, and other "local conditions" required customization of specifications by Forest Supervisors, who were aided in site supervision by the Construction and Maintenance Handbook. Construction materials were often salvaged from other buildings to cut costs, requiring further modification of specifications (Doran 1920). Several late Phase II and Phase III guard cabins throughout the Region are based upon the Construction and Maintenance Handbook A Series. This series was unrelated to the Regional A Series described above, and has little stylistic detailing. It is defined within this study as Bungalow-style, based upon its simple massing, use of rough materials, and full-width front porches that sometimes display Bungalow-style square pillars and knee brackets. The C&M Handbook A Series evidently consisted of designs for single-room (225 square feet) cabins. Remaining examples (Lily Lake, Bar HL, Thompson Creek, Silver Falls, California Park and Turkey Springs Guard Stations) have similar dimensions and massing, though each has unique fenestration, front porches, and construction type.
Throughout Phase II, the Region constantly adapted to changes in land use by closing or abandoning some stations and establishing new ones. Many Series plans replaced facilities not built by the Forest Service. Pioneer construction techniques continued during Phase II, though the introduction of standard designs, construction drawings, and specifications unified both appearance and materials. Design and construction became increasingly uniform and reflective of the Forest Service philosophy of harmony and utility. Simple, unpretentious designs constructed of native or local materials also reflected the influence of the conservation movement's philosophies. By the close of the era, frame designs began to reflect Rustic-style principles of simplicity, rough construction, use of minimally manipulated native materials and careful design of the site. Early Phase II log buildings constructed without National, Regional, or Forest construction plans are defined in this study as Pioneer. Many late Phase II log designs, such as Pyramid Guard Station dwelling (Figure 124, Routt National Forest), conscientiously exhibited Rustic-style elements, and are defined as such.
The early architecture of Phase II reflects the influence of several residential architectural styles and trends. By the close of the era, the Region had a substantial body of architecture that reflected an emerging sense of style and construction that was distinct and appropriate. The search for the perfect expression of USFS values was soon realized with the development of Forest Service Rustic Style during the advent of the CCC and the subsequent administrative expansion of the Forest Service.
Phase III: 1933-1942
Phase III encompassed the years the CCC was in operation, from 1933-1942. During this era of unprecedented administrative expansion, the Region's Architectural Division created its unique interpretation of the Rustic Style, which employed natural settings and materials to harmonize with the physical environment. Traditional building techniques were used in the construction of Rustic buildings and structures, with emphasis on hand craftsmanship. Characteristic elements of Rustic architecture included battered stone foundations and massive interior and exterior stone chimneys, log walls, small paned windows, deeply overhung roofs and minimal detailing. The overall appearance was that of informality and horizontality, attributes that complimented the mountain settings in which the style was most appropriately found. The Rustic architecture of Region 2 is typified by its standardized design, rugged appearance, and labor-intensive composition (Figure 17).
Some of the first Rustic architecture in Colorado was built by the National Park Service (NPS), who built a gateway structure at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park in 1921. The NPS began designing buildings that were sympathetic with the natural surroundings, and emulated pioneer construction methods. Cultural harmony was achieved by imitating historical building patterns of the Rocky Mountain region, including log cabins, Indian Pueblos, and Spanish Colonial Adobes (Tweed et al. 1977:35).
Forest Service architectural influences of the first and second eras were highly reflective of national architectural trends. The Rustic Style of the third era embodied the pragmatic Forest Service values of utility, respect for the land, and harmony the Agency was trying to express.
During the 1930s the Region's administrative workload increased, due in part to New Deal-era land purchases. This resulted in occupational specialization of administrative staff, which led to an increase in employees with greater spatial needs (Hinton 1988:V-14). The National mandate to provide separate quarters for both the resident ranger and visiting officers (U.S. Forest Service 1928:63-A), the anticipated use of government-furnished vehicles, and a desire on the part of Regional designers to provide more comfortable working conditions resulted in the development of administrative buildings that were much larger than the A Series of Phase II. Offices now had restrooms, central furnaces, additional bedrooms, second vehicular stalls, and sometimes workrooms. Barns were gradually enlarged to accommodate vehicles. Though vehicles displaced the use of some horses, barns or stalls were still included in the design of many stations throughout the CCC era.
Residences also evolved. The development of the Region 2 Rustic Style could be said to have begun with the White River's 1912 design for the Derby Ranger Station dwelling (Figure 13). Though designed to have notched log walls with 6" crowns, the cabin as built had square notches, with no crown. The rafters stopped at the wall, leaving a one-foot cantilever of sheathing and roofing material unsupported. The log walls, set on an uncut stone foundation, began almost at grade. The eave line (where roof and wall meet) was 11'6" from the ground, and the roof had a moderate pitch. The porch roofs were "boxed" (enclosed), thus hiding the rafters. The fenestration consisted of large 14" x 30" four-pane double-hung and sliding windows.
Regional Engineer Brownlee's 1931 design for the D-9 log dwelling (Figure 15) had a poured-concrete foundation with uncut-stone veneer. He lowered the eave line to 8'0" from the ground, and exposed the now-extended rafters 18 inches. He also overhung the flat-faced log crowns and used unpeeled logs as structural elements in both the ceiling and the exposed porch, rather than the milled lumber of the Derby design. The craftsman windows were still large, but broken down visually with narrow vertical upper window panes. Brownlee further refined his style in his 1934 design for the Pyramid Guard Station, which had enlarged rafters and cantilevered logs or purlins supporting the deeply overhung gables (Figures 18, 19).
Frame Rustic design evolved similarly. Early forest designs were highly functional and almost devoid of stylistic references. Regional designs developed during phase II incorporated a variety of Bungalow-style elements which were representative of Forest Service philosophy in their use of wood, natural settings, and simple construction. By 1936, frame design evolved to include a variety of exterior textures and details that reflected a clear Rustic-style influence. The exteriors could include both vertical and horizontal siding, local stone foundations, and chimneys. The overhung, gable roof edges were often faced with end rafters with scrolled ends or a wood keystone detail element at the peak. Some overhangs were supported by massive 4-inch-by-8-inch purlins, whose ends could be trimmed flat, chamfered, or scrolled. Rafters grew larger, though still exposed. Gables often had vertical siding of regular or varied width, length, and finish detailing. Designs of Phase III used wood as a primary exterior element, contrasted by the stone foundations and chimneys and window glazing. Windows became a prominent design element, occurring in groupings of two, three, or more. Mullions and shutters were used for varying emphasis. Many buildings were constructed in areas without electricity, so windows provided functional utility as well as aesthetic value. One of the earliest architecturally designed complexes of the CCC era was the Pueblo-style Dolores Ranger Station (Figure 135, San Juan National Forest). Colorado's Pueblo Revival-style buildings had traditionally included wood casement windows since the 1920s, and the Dolores buildings followed suit, as did virtually all CCC-era construction. It is probable that, for ease of design and construction and uniformity of appearance, the use of casement windows was standardized for all Regional administrative design. Porches grew more substantial, incorporating roofs, railings, and massive, yet simple wood pillars that were accentuated with scrolled wood brackets and chamfered corners. The brackets structurally reinforced the pillars. The texture of the materials was increased in scale to match the increased scale of the buildings. As a result, Phase II frame buildings appeared much more substantial and rugged than the more diminutive Phase II Bungalow-style frame buildings.
Comprehensive guidelines for Forest Service design first appeared in W. Ellis Groben's Acceptable Plans, Forest Service Administrative Buildings, printed in 1938 (U.S. Forest Service 1938). Groben was hired as consulting architect for the USFS in 1936. He was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He was doing residential design when he came to the Forest Service, and had served briefly as chief architect for the City of Philadelphia (Tatman and Moss 1985:318). He put his skills as both residential and public administrator to work guiding the Forest Service as it created its own style of architecture. Groben was directly involved in the design of several buildings and sites in Region 2.
Groben felt that current Forest Service design did not "possess Forest Service identity or . . . adequately express its purposes" (Otis et al. 1986:209). In defining appropriate ways to express Forest Service values in architecture, he advocated a regionalist approach to design based upon local architectural styles and materials.
The manual, written in part to assist inexperienced regional architectural staffs with development of appropriate designs, defined several regional styles, locations, and building materials, and included examples of Forest Service design from around the nation, including several from Region 2.
Principles of Architectural Planning for Forest Service Administrative Improvements (Groben 1938) contained technical tips and construction details, as well as discussion of universal design issues like character, mass, and scale. Groben articulated the Forest Service value of utility with the statement: "Practical and workable plans lend themselves readily to good elevational design" (1938:6).
Until 1935 Brownlee was apparently the Region's principle architectural designer. In 1936 an Architectural Division was created. S.A. Axtens became the Region's first officially designated architect (U.S. Department of Agriculture 1936:9). Axtens stayed only one year, but was involved in the design of several stations, including the Dolores Ranger Station (Figure 135, San Juan National Forest). Brownlee continued to design administrative buildings throughout the CCC era. His 1934 Pyramid Ranger Station design incorporated many of the elements that would define the Regional Rustic Style.
Though stylistic interpretation by Regional designers evolved throughout Phase III, the basic elements of the Region 2 Rustic Style, which included massing, appearance, and basic construction, were intact by 1936. All Phase III Rustic design emulated these. The architectural record of the Region is incomplete, and many of the plans that remain on record are unsigned. It is therefore difficult to attribute the Region's Rustic architecture to any one designer. Several individuals may have collaborated in the initial Rustic designs. The earliest signed plan for a frame Rustic building (Sunlight Ranger Station Garage and Shop, Shoshone National Forest, Plan B 59) on record was designed by W.E. Jackson in December, 1936. Jackson's signature appears on several early designs. It is unclear when Jackson first began work with the Forest Service. His earliest known correspondence dates to May of 1936.
One of the earliest plans for a log Rustic building (Centennial Ranger Station, Medicine Bow, Plan B 150) was apparently also completed in 1936 (Scott 1988:205). Brownlee's designs showed increasing references towards the Rustic Style, and it is likely, based upon a continued involvement with design throughout his career within Region 2, that he had much to do with the final appearance of much architecture of Phase III. S.A. Axtens, the Region's first architect, may also have been involved in the development of the Region's Rustic Style, though no plans bear his signature as designer. Axtens headed the newly created architectural department in 1936, and his design for the Dolores Ranger Station does exhibit some similarities in use of materials, as seen in his choice of windows.
With the creation of the CCC, the Forest Service, which up until the Depression operated with limited governmental support and financial resources to oversee its vast and untamed domain, found itself on the verge of unprecedented expansion. The CCC was created in 1933 by newly elected President Franklin Roosevelt to put men to work doing environmental conservation on public lands. Over 170,000,000 acres of public land were administered by the Forest Service in Colorado in 1933 (Merrill 1981:49). The Forests presented a perfect vehicle for implementing the goals of the New Deal. Roosevelt's administration quickly drafted legislation to put 250,000 men on the Federal payroll, working for the common good. What began as an ambitious project soon mushroomed into one of unprecedented scale, as the number of men enrolled in the program doubled from the initial figure within the first two years. Over three million men had signed on by 1942. More than 57,000 men would work in the National Forests in Colorado during the next decade, spending more than $63 million on conservation efforts (Merrill 1981). All told, over half of the total output of the CCC was administered by the Forest Service (Steen 1976:215), much of it in building construction. Enrollees would construct 37 new lookout towers, 77 headquarters office facilities and 153 ranger dwellings (Hinton 1988:V-23).
The Region had ambitious long-range plans for construction of administrative facilities, and this was the first time they had the means to pursue them. The Copeland Report had advocated a more active role for the Forest Service in resource development, but a lack of administrative facilities prevented rangers from maintaining a regular presence in the forests. Forest Service Chief Robert Y. Stuart, recognizing an opportunity to make vast upgrades with the resources of the New Deal admonished that nothing be built which would later go unused. He planned to use unemployment relief labor to construct enough administrative and protective buildings to carry the Forest Service far into the future.
Fifty-six camps were in operation in the Region by August of 1933 (Peck 1933a). The Region 2 Architectural Division, headed by W. Earle Jackson with a staff of 11 architects, began developing designs. The Division produced detailed construction plans for nearly every building constructed during Phase III. Designs of this era included a variety of dwellings, office buildings, garages, and barns, as well as various other associated buildings. Supervisor warehouses were constructed near their headquarters in at least 12 of the 14 Forests during this era. Most, like the one built at Glenwood Springs (Figure 166, White River National Forest) contained shops, garages, and storage areas. USFS design policy mandated three-bedroom dwellings for all stations occupied for more than three months. Dwellings, like the one designed originally for Hot Sulphur Springs Ranger Station (Figures 20, 21), averaged more than 1,200 square feet of living space, though many contained over 1,600 square feet, not including full basements. Basements containing a central furnace, storage, and living space were standard on most offices and dwellings. Rare examples of attached garages exist, though these were not the norm. Most small vehicle garages were separated, and contained two stalls. Many combination office buildings also had two garage stalls (e.g., Figure 155, San Juan National Forest). Many barns, such as that seen at River Springs Ranger Station, also had one or more garage stalls.
The Region constructed more Rustic-style buildings than all other styles combined. These were perhaps the most distinctive of all styles used by the Architectural Division, and best embodied USFS ideals. All rural buildings and many urban ones were designed in the Rustic Style. Rugged log construction was built exclusively in predominantly wooded rural settings. The same design took on a more refined appearance in urban environments, incorporating frame construction rather than log. Frame Rustic designs were appropriate in both rural and urban settings, though brick veneer was occasionally substituted for the split-stone veneer of foundation and chimneys. Rangers respected local building codes and practices, which often required design, setting, or materials modifications of Regionally produced designs.
Rustic buildings were built throughout the Region. They had high poured-concrete foundations faced with split, uncoursed local stone or brick. Walls were peeled, shaved logs of uniform diameter, or wide clapboard siding. Log joints were usually saddle notched with roughly pointed crowns, up to 18" deep. This system was abandoned in favor of a simpler one. One series of Rustic designs created for recreational camp use in South Dakota utilized split shake shingles, squared purlins, and very wide wood lap siding (Scott 1988:332). Moderate-pitch roofs almost invariably had exposed log or frame rafters and purlins. Gables of both log and frame buildings often had vertical logs or board siding, with attic vents at the peak. Sawn shake shingles were standard for all Rustic designs. Andersen or Curtis casement windows were a Regional standard, thus providing a sense of visual unity for all Phase III designs regardless of architectural style. Small diamond pane casement windows sometimes appeared near front entries. After 1938 some rooflines incorporated the broken gables seen in Acceptable Plans: Forest Service Administrative Buildings (U.S. Forest Service 1938). Every style had wood wainscot ceilings and waxed wood floors, especially in public rooms. Interior materials not stained or waxed were painted. Interior color schemes were often selected by the overseeing ranger, though final approval rested with the Regional Forester. Exteriors of log buildings were oiled, stained, varnished, or painted. Ochre pigment was often used to achieve a dark brown appearance. Some rural frame buildings were also finished in this way. Most frame buildings, however, and possibly all of those built in urban areas were uniformly painted in off-white color schemes. Beginning in the mid-1940s, forests began finishing many of their frame buildings in the same "Forest Service Brown" used on log buildings.
Pueblo-style buildings were built only in the southern half of the state where the style was commonly seen. This included the Pike, San Isabel, San Juan, and Rio Grande National Forests. Pueblo-style buildings had irregular footprints, battered walls, flat roofs, and a low parapet. Buildings designed in the Pueblo Style had highly irregular footprints. This can be seen in the plan (F6617 Job B 134) for the Huerfano Ranger Station Dwelling (Figure 22), which was later built in several locations throughout Colorado. However, many Pueblo buildings were originally laid out for a Rustic-style facade. These retain the simple rectangular footprints of the Rustic designs. The earliest Pueblo-style design evaluated (F5132 SR, Job 48) was produced by Brownlee for the La Veta Ranger Station (Figure 84, San Isabel National Forest). It utilized 12"-wide adobe blocks salvaged from several area buildings, including the former Popul Vuh Ranger Station near La Veta (Stahl 1934). The blocks sat on a poured-concrete foundation which ended at ground level. Later designs produced by the Architectural Division imitated the adobe look by using hand-troweled Portland cement stucco over brick walls. Their low-slung appearance was reinforced by heavy wood window and door lintels and horizontal window panes. Buildings were painted a cream or light yellow color.
Several supervisors' warehouses, including the Animas District Office (Figure 130, San Juan National Forest) and one combination office building at Buena Vista (Figure 90, San Isabel National Forest) were designed in the Art Deco Style. These were most likely influenced by Charles Jaka (Note 2). Their brick detailing is identical to that of Jaka's landmark Art Deco buildings at 1601 and 1611 Grape Street in Denver. Characteristic elements included fluting (small stepbacks in the brickwork) near the fenestration and doors, and strong vertical and horizontal elements. They appeared only in urban environments.
The Architectural Division also designed in the Spanish Colonial (current Pagosa Springs Ranger's Dwelling, San Juan National Forests; Figure 23), Classical (former Pagosa Springs Office, San Juan National Forests; Figure 24) and Colonial Revival (Saratoga administrative building, Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming; Figure 25; and the former Delta Supervisor's dwelling, Grand Mesa National Forest; Figure 26) styles. Figures 27 and 28 geographically illustrate the placement of evaluated sites in Colorado by style. Designers also drew inspiration from the site to create unique and highly vernacular interpretations of local styles. For example, the architecture of the San Luis Valley in south-central Colorado was dominated by adobe and sod buildings. The Del Norte Ranger Station (Figure 102, Rio Grande National Forest), located on the edge of town, reflects these construction types in its battered stucco-covered walls. The buildings also have exposed bricks and broken roof lines which identify them as post-1938 USFS Region 2 design. Designers were also influenced by district and forest rangers, supervisors, inspectors, and job superintendents. These men corresponded with Regional designers on issues ranging from insightful perspectives on aesthetic issues to pragmatic technical recommendations.
Several design schemes became templates for standardization. The White River Supervisor's Warehouse at Glenwood Springs, the Centennial Ranger Station Office on the Medicine Bow (e.g., Figure 17), the Hot Sulphur Springs Supervisor's Dwelling on the Arapaho (e.g., Figure 21), and the Huerfano Ranger's Dwelling on the San Isabel National Forest (e.g., Figure 22, San Juan National Forest), were reproduced throughout the region. Several were later featured in Acceptable Plans (U.S. Forest Service 1938). Some designs were inspired by or borrowed directly from designs produced by other Regions within the Forest Service.
Regional standardization began in Phase II with the introduction of the A and D Series, yet was highly discouraged by both regional and USFS design divisions. To counter the problems associated with this practice, the Architectural Division began using landscape professionals for site design, and dispatched personnel (Mr. Harvey) to "fix the elevations" (Thompson 1936). Harvey traveled the Region, designing the facades of standard layouts from the job site. Layouts were revised and the elevational details quickly changed to whatever style or method of construction seemed most appropriate for the site; in accordance with Groben's recommendations (U.S. Forest Service 1938:A-17):
This practice can be seen in plans for the Estes Park Ranger Station dwelling. The dwelling was slated to be built at a former Bureau of Reclamation (BoR) administrative site. Typical Region 2 Rustic-style detailing, such as broken gabled roofs and vertical siding (as seen in USFS 1938:B-43), was modified to match that of nearby BoR buildings (Kreutzer 1938). Though never constructed, the final design referenced the BoR standard windows, vertical siding, and entry details. The Bungalow-style layouts of the highly functional A Series of Phase II were constructed in Phase III with characteristic Rustic-style elements, including stone-veneer foundations, V-grooved siding and Andersen Series casement windows with shutters.
Exceptions to the practice of contextual continuity exist. One example occurred at the proposed San Juan National Forest Ranger's Residence No. 1 at Pagosa Springs (Figure 23; Figure 146, San Juan National Forest). An incongruous group of neighboring architectural styles prompted the regional office to erect a distinctively different Spanish Colonial-style dwelling, the only example of the style built in the Region. See Appendix B for a complete description of the architectural characteristics of Phase III.
The current appearance of many buildings differs greatly from original plans or construction. There are various reasons for these differences. Modifications were made for contextual purposes, functional requirements, or economy.
Forest Supervisors sometimes began construction from acquired plans without consultation with the Engineering Division. The practice often led to stylistic and physical incompatibility with nearby buildings or site topography, and were often cause for changes during construction (Jackson 1937). Typically, however, field personnel worked closely with the Regional office for site design and building type, layout, and appearance. When a station was to include buildings originally designed for a different complex, plans were often modified so that design elements ranging from attic air vents to porch designs had a similar appearance on each building. Standardized painting schemes also helped unify the buildings (Groben 1937).
When the Michigan River Ranger Station (Figure 119, Routt National Forest) resident bachelor informed his supervisors that he was about to be married, a kitchen wing was promptly constructed (Fay 1936). The interior woodwork of the Forest Supervisor's Warehouse at Colorado Springs (Figure 85, Pike National Forest) came from lumber salvaged from several former buildings on the site. The use of salvaged materials was a practice common to every phase.
Designers responded to climatic conditions, especially the deep snows found at higher elevations, by raising the foundations of Rustic-style buildings several feet from grade. Simple gable roof forms, strongly reinforced, were meant to cleanly shed heavy snow, which fell away from the building due to deep overhangs. Many porches had large areas adjacent to the entry and protective roofs over entries. Barn and garage doors opened in or up and were oriented to the south when possible. Sites used topography and vegetation to provide wind and storm protection.
The Rustic Style's moderate-pitch shingled roofs and the Pueblo Style's flat roofs were inappropriate in much of Colorado and were unable to shed snow. Many construction modifications were made by rangers attempting to solve the problem of leaking roofs (Webber 1941:2). A lack of uniformity of room and window layout caused problems when a ranger family's furniture and draperies did not fit the varied interior spaces (Baird 1994).
All design changes were to be approved by both the forest supervisor and regional forester. Apparently, this policy was never rigorously enforced by the Regional Office (Spencer 1941). Field design modifications are testament to the autonomy and resourcefulness of the rangers who executed them.
The Regional Office and Forests continually revised standardized designs to meet changing resource management policies. By 1939 several Forests had reconfigured the office room of the popular Centennial Ranger Station Office Building plan to include a kitchen/living area, and added more windows and storage areas. Centennial plans with these changes were constructed at remote guard stations where rangers found themselves spending ever increasing amounts of time. Though essentially the same in appearance, the former office building design had evolved into a bunkhouse (Thompson 1939b).
Dwelling, garage, and office designs grew increasingly larger to meet functional requirements. Designers continually refined exterior appearances. Throughout Phase III the number, size, and sophistication of Forest Service buildings grew. Consequently, there appeared to be some danger that the designs were outgrowing their utilitarian roots. CCC Camp F-48-C Superintendent William T. Vaughn supervised construction of the Norwood Ranger Station (Figure 29). Though understandably biased, he described the new complex as "...real swanky, large, swell, modern to the last word, and with all possible conveniences...luxurious quarters..." (Vaughn 1937:1). Rangers continually working to ameliorate anti-Forest Service sentiment within their communities were aware of the potentially negative image that overly nice administrative buildings and residences might convey.
Primarily constrained by cost limitations and guided by Regional standards, the size, style, and type of construction was to a large extent determined by district rangers and forest supervisors. Construction funding came from many sources, including Emergency Conservation Work, Emergency Relief Act, and Work Projects Act funds, each of which carried different stipulations that had to be carefully observed. The combined funding sources often exceeded the Service's $5,000 construction limit. Costs varied widely within the Region. The Eagle dwelling (Figure 165, White River National Forest) cost more than 35 percent more than an identical building constructed the same year at Norwood (Granger 1948; Figure 67, Uncompahgre National Forest). Other forces influencing the design included the quality and quantity of available construction materials, and the estimated life span and use of the building (Fay 1937).
As the Forests developed administratively, district and forest administrative centers became closely associated with population density and foci of non-government activities. Table 4 shows the population change up to 1950 at county seats where Forest Service administrative sites are located. In most cases these places are where Supervisors' Offices evolved. In some cases primary District Offices are currently in towns that were once the location of a Supervisor's Office of a Forest that is no longer in existence. In other cases, as the county seat changed so did the status of the Forest Service administrative office. The shift towards centralized urban ranger stations may have been in part influenced by rangers who wanted the conveniences of the community for themselves and their families (Baird 1994).
Table 4. Population of County Seats with Forest Service Administrative Offices*.
*Data derived from census records published in Year Book of Colorado (1910-1950) except for Crested Butte (Data from Kerr 1981). Buena Vista ceased to be the county seat of Chaffee County after 1928.
Administrative reorganizations became opportunities for Forests to upgrade their improvements. Many existing buildings not representative of the USFS image were replaced with standard designs that often included living quarters, though some rangers who owned homes near designated administrative sites were allowed to stay in them. These reorganizations were the result of changes in the spatial administration of the Forests throughout Phase III. These can be accounted for primarily by changes in the amount and location of use of forest resources, the introduction of vehicles on the Forests, and environmental changes. Andrew Hutton, Supervisor of the San Juan, made some effort to justify his organizational change strategy to employees in 1936 (Hutton 1936c):
The "Temporary Stations" developed as part of Hutton's new strategy took their name from their function, and the term "Work Centers" became part of the Region's architectural vocabulary. Landscape architects began assisting with the development of site layouts and vegetation plans in the early 1930s. Increases in funding allowed the Region for the first time to comprehensively plan and construct an entire station. Designers were guided in their determination of need for administrative sites by several criteria outlined by the Washington Office in 1932 (Supernowicz 1989:9). These first documented guidelines for site design policy included, among other things, formally evaluating proposed site locations for practicality and cost efficiency. Consulting Landscape Architect A.D. Taylor's Problems of Landscape Architecture in the National Forests (Taylor and Bonnet 1936:194) depicted a balanced arrangement of buildings that placed a large dwelling opposite the driveway from the smaller office and service buildings. Urban dwellings and offices faced the street. Rural dwellings and offices faced the road, driveway, or were oriented towards a commanding view. The barn or garage was at the end of the drive axis. These layouts were used for many Rustic-style site layouts throughout the Region. Taylor's influence is documented in his correspondence as a Forest Inspector. Under his guidance, administrative complexes exhibited a continuity of design and materials that previous stations had not achieved. Site and building designers strove to balance the industrious appearance of a cluster of buildings with the efficiency of multi-functional buildings.
Sites for rural stations were chosen for their protection from the weather, southern exposure, and oversight of the district. Protection from the elements was best evaluated in inclement weather, and Roosevelt National Forest Supervisor William R. Kreutzer was known to evaluate sites by riding in storms until he found an appropriate location. The most important site criterion was a source a reliable water, which Kreutzer evaluated thusly: "We could not detect any harmful substance by tasting" (Kreutzer 1936). Rural ranger stations presented an informal appearance, which was reinforced by the landscaping, relationship between buildings, and rugged detailing. A flag pole and parking area sat in front of the office building, as seen at Cold Springs Ranger Station (Figure 30). A flagstone or concrete walk led from the parking area to the office porch. The dwelling was usually further away from the driveway and was typically approached from a sidewalk on line with or opposite the office sidewalk, as seen at Mesa Lakes Ranger Station (Figure 31). Few front doors directly faced the sidewalks that led to them. Most were set at right angles.
Urban stations presented a relatively formal appearance with their refined landscaping, materials, and detailing. The Dolores Ranger Station (Figure 32) exemplifies typical ranger station design. It was highly praised by Groben for its masterful design and was featured in Acceptable Standards, Forest Service Administrative Buildings (USFS 1938:E-15). Urban stations were almost always located on principal travel corridors, in transition areas between commercial and residential districts. Corner lots were preferable, so office and dwelling could face different streets. Though approached from separate directions, buildings were visually or physically linked by sidewalks, and sometimes by fences or stone retaining walls. In urban areas the ranger's dwelling always sat at the most prominent position in the corner, with the office and assistant ranger's dwelling relegated to secondary positions at the sides. Garages and barns rarely had street frontage, but were often accessed from the alley. The only documented instance of complete separation of dwelling and office occurred at Buena Vista on the San Isabel National Forest. The reason for this aberration is unknown. Urban buildings were frame or masonry construction, even though both pioneer and designed log dwellings often sat nearby. Power lines were hidden underground. Supervisor's warehouses were built between residential and commercial or light industrial areas, where their appearance and function blended with existing community fabric.
Throop (1979:29) identifies four characteristics of CCC-era site design. These include: a balanced arrangement of buildings and grounds, economical development, harmony with surroundings, and conformation with existing physiographic conditions. With the help of Landscape Architects and obvious influence from Groben's Principles of Architectural Planning for Forest Service Administrative Improvements (1938) Region 2 ranger stations exemplified these characteristics. The development of office buildings allowed designers to arrange buildings in configurations that physically reinforced the dual roles of the rangers as local residents and Forest Service employees.
Modern construction equipment shaped the topography of sites. Buildings were located far enough apart to provide a physical and psychological sense of separation while preserving efficiency of vehicular and pedestrian movement. The centrally located driveway typically serviced all buildings. Site layouts accommodated existing vegetation (McCord 1939). Landscape plans incorporated native species into natural configurations which appeared not to be designed at all. Low plantings near the buildings and foundations softened visual impact and implied informality by blurring the line where ground and building met. Tall trees framed buildings and reinforced their horizontality (Figure 33).
Throop (1979:40) documents a lesser expenditure of resources for landscaping of stations not generally seen by the public the Region was highly conscious of the public appearance of its architecture. Log construction was regularly used in areas with high recreational use despite higher construction costs than a frame building. It was acknowledged that log buildings "...fill the bill for a Ranger Station in keeping with the traditional, and possibly sometimes imaginary, life of a ranger" (Torgny 1934:2). The same frame guard building at Alvarado praised by Ranger Roy Truman was scolded by the Regional Forest Inspector for its inadequate and outdated appearance to the many users of the nearby Alvarado Campground and Alpine Lodge (Johnson 1935). As during both previous phases, however, the method of construction depended greatly upon the availability of materials.
Buildings were constructed in stone (e.g., Figure 176, White River National Forest), brick (e.g., Figure 130, San Juan National Forest), adobe (e.g., Figure 83, San Isabel National Forest), milled wood (e.g., Figure 48, Arapaho National Forest), or logs (e.g., Figure 159, White River National Forest). The use of wood as a construction material was perhaps the ultimate expression of Forest Service values, and designers took every opportunity to use it. Though the cost of most building materials was depressed, wood was especially cheap, easy to work with, readily available, and reflected the pioneer architectural traditions of Rocky Mountain architecture. The Rustic Style was especially appropriate in the mountains, where wood shakes, native stone, and logs were the most economical materials available. Doors, windows, shutters, porch railings, interior walls, ceilings, and floors were all wood (Groben 1938:47). The Government-sponsored New Deal programs were encouraged to use commercially available materials as a stimulus to production. Forests purchased construction materials locally, through a central purchasing arrangement with the Regional Office, and sometimes directly from a mill under Forest permit. Processed wood products like Plywood, Compo Board, Celotex, and Nu-Wood were used extensively for interior finishes. Door and window hardware was purchased or fabricated by Forest Service or CCC shops. Most of the purchased material was local, but Forests occasionally imported logs, stone, and log cabin siding from nearby states. Native pine, spruce, and fir were not ideal species for log construction, but worked well enough to use. The tall slender trees gave distinction to Regional construction in Colorado. The use of brick as a finish material was discouraged by Groben, mainly because of the skill required to use it (Groben 1938:10). Region 2 used it regardless, both as a finish material on supervisors warehouses and as infrastructure on stuccoed Pueblo-style buildings.
Buildings were constructed with private builders, labor from one or more New Deal agencies, or by rangers using donated time and skills. The vast majority was done by the CCC. The Forest Service operated the CCC camps and supervised the work assignments through Forest Service project superintendents and job foremen (Gleyre 1936:148). District rangers typically served as job inspectors. Service personnel with trade skills often worked alongside their charges.
The enrollees were a diverse group (Table 1), coming from as far away as Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Many of the boys were inexperienced in the woods, and depended greatly on the training and supervision that they received from Forest Service personnel and their crew foremen (Caywood 1991:50). Supervisors often expressed personal prejudices regarding the technical abilities and work ethic of various ethnographic, geographic, and racial groups (Gleyre 1936:31). Those with a particular skill were rotated to job sites around the region. If these enrollees were not available, supervisors often hired local tradesmen for brick masonry, skilled carpentry, and interior finishing. When work was scarce, many experienced men were readily available from county relief rolls. Where the local construction economy was strong, only inexperienced men were available, posing considerable challenges for job supervisors (Peck 1937) and resulting in inconsistent construction practices. Camp F-65-C gained valuable experience constructing several stations on the White River National Forest. The evolution of the technical ability of the camp's enrollees can be seen at successive buildings. Forests were careful to use only union card- enrollees where conflicts might arise with local unions (Thompson 1940).
Variations in construction are most evident in window shutters, which were typically made on site. Many guard stations had functional shutters used to protect the buildings from weather and vandalism when unoccupied. Most shutters on offices and dwellings were purely decorative, and appeared primarily on the public sides of buildings. Many of these shutters contained a decorative pine tree logo which appeared for the first time during Phase III. Seen in many forms, the Forest Service pine tree logo was used in all Regions. Its general history is outlined by Throop (1979:42). It appears primarily on the window shutters and gates of the Region 2 Rustic-style buildings. Its use was common enough to warrant a cautionary paragraph in Principles of Architectural Planning for Forest Service Administrative Improvements (Groben 1938:56). Its shape was standardized within Region 2 but varied widely in its actual construction.
Increases in size and sophistication of designs required new construction technologies. The Rustic tradition made use of modern technologies and covered them with materials that appeared handcrafted and traditional. Similarly, Region 2 used a variety of materials found in the Forests, but utilized modern technology in construction. Steel beams supported log vigas (both structural and false) and log rafters (Figure 34), and Rustic design utilized stone veneer over un-reinforced poured-concrete foundations (Figure 35). Milled log cabin siding imitated the appearance of real logs. Used at first principally as trim, by the close of the CCC-era many non-public buildings like storehouses and barns were sided entirely with veneer log cabin siding. Real logs were hewn with power tools, reinforced with metal anchors, and hand-finished with axes for a rough-hewn appearance. Unlike the pioneer construction techniques of the previous two phases, the use, treatment, and technology of log construction was somewhat standardized in Phase III, though variations in finish were common. Corner joints were saddle notched. Saddle notches were efficient, strong, and, above all, easy to construct. All log buildings built by the CCC in Colorado were peeled. Initially logs were laid up with knots and other irregularities exposed. By 1939 several camps were shaving the logs to a perfect uniform diameter.
Ranger Bruce Torgny proposed hewing the underside of logs, further refining the appearance of Forest Service log buildings by eliminating the need for chinking and daubing. This new system allowed a tighter fit, more permanent design, and enabled the interiors of log buildings to be left exposed, thus reducing materials costs while enhancing rusticity (Torgny 1934). This can be seen during the 1937 project on the Shoshone National Forest, (Figure 36). The practice also became a Regional standard. Figure 37 depicts the notching systems identified in the report sample.
Designs also benefitted from new mechanical technology. Most year-round administrative buildings were heated by stove or fireplace until 1936. After that, most dwellings and offices were heated with central furnaces, often located in basements. Some garages, shops and warehouses were heated. Furnaces were usually of a wood- or coal-fired convective type. Where electricity was available, forced air "stoker"-type furnaces were sometimes specified. These heated inconsistently, and their use was not common in many areas; thus, knowledgeable servicemen were not available. Consequently, many "stoker"-type furnaces were eventually replaced with more conventional, locally available furnaces. In buildings with central furnaces water was heated by a reservoir on the furnace. Seasonally occupied buildings were often constructed with no heat, sometimes without even a fireplace.
An example of the use of prefabrication can be seen in the Hot Sulphur Springs Ranger Station, where a former Bureau of Reclamation prefabricated building was converted to a residence (Plan F8473 SR). It is also seen in the use of surplus temporary CCC buildings as residences, offices, warehouses, barns, and garages. CCC camps, on USFS suggestion, fabricated log buildings at their camps, usually in winter, and then reassembled them on site in summer.
By 1940 Grand Mesa Forest Supervisor Ray Peck proposed placing a 1/2"-by-3" board mortise between the tenoned (grooved) faces of adjoining logs (Peck 1940). With the use of power tools, Peck argued, this system was faster, cheaper, stronger, and more weather resistant than previous systems. It is unknown how many buildings utilized this technology.
New technologies were still constrained by the abilities of the workmen. A 1937 CCC-built addition to the 1916 Michigan Creek Ranger Station was built with typical Phase III saddle notching, though the original construction had dovetail notches. A complicated mortise and tenon notching system for the Basalt Ranger Station was abandoned for a simple square notch covered by a hollow vertical log (Figure 38). Two experienced log men could lay a single course of logs for a combination office building (8 logs) in three days (Williams 1946). Construction time for a typical ranger station ranged from three months (Vaughn 1937) to several years. Most took about one full year.
A philosophical conflict developed between the Rustic thought, placing decoration over function (Otis et al. 1986:215), and the Forest Service policy of function determining form (U.S. Forest Service 1938:A-17). This conflict was expressed in the since-modified exaggerated crown, purlin, and rafter detailing of "high style" Rustic designs. These exposed and structurally unnecessary log members eventually deteriorated and rotted away or were removed.
The Rustic architecture of Region 2 was highly reflective of the USFS philosophies of harmony, utility, and the use of natural materials. The stations's settings, on broad expanses of land with flagstone walks leading to its residential-looking buildings, seem to reflect an attempt to integrate with the community while staying distinct within it. The separation and relative placement of dwelling and office suggest that the ranger was meant to be viewed as first a part of the community, second a Forest Officer. This duality is reflected also in the architecture, which was professionally austere even in its residential elements and details. Even draperies were forbidden in dwelling windows because they did not reflect the professional function of the station (Thompson 1939a). The Region 2 Rustic Style used a strong horizontal emphasis, complimentary colors, extensive use of wood and stone, and low overall massing to harmonize with the Rocky Mountain environment. It characterized vernacular building techniques and construction in its axe cut log crowns and rafters, saddle notching, and unfinished stone, while simultaneously utilizing the latest construction technology available. Interiors utilized wood or wood by-products to every possible extent. The USFS policy regarding use of wood was outlined in the Improvement Handbook (U.S Forest Service 1937:71).
Wood appeared on the interior of buildings in the structure, floor, wall and ceiling materials, cabinet and trim work, and thermal insulation.
Forest Service personnel took great pride in their buildings. Forest Ranger Roy Truman lobbied for a better grade of lumber for construction of his guard building at Alvarado "to rate with the general high standard of the building" (Truman 1934). The Norwood Ranger Station was proclaimed upon its completion to be worthy enough for its new ranger to "assume the dignity appearance and routine behooving a man of his position" (Vaughn 1937:1). Extensive construction records document the extraordinary care taken by Service personnel in making sure their buildings were as well built as possible.
Though Service personnel enjoyed assistance from the New Deal agencies for several years, CCC activity after 1936 declined. By 1938 a large number of CCC camp buildings were abandoned and relocated for Forest Service administrative use. Many could be easily dis-assembled for relocation and the Forest Service reassembled the sections in unique configurations which fit their specific needs, often adding elements as necessary. Built to Army standards, and devoid of any stylistic elements, their stark design echoes the harsh reality of their era.
The CCC was officially disbanded in July of 1942, and all improvement work was discontinued for the duration of World War II (Year Book of the State of Colorado 1943-44:494). The number of architects employed by the Region dwindled after the Architectural Division's peak of 18 architects and draftsmen in 1938 to nothing. The Division was revived in 1941 and 42 before it was finally disbanded in 1942. Thus ended the largest chapter in Regional architectural history. Head Engineer Brownlee stayed for several more years, as did several other draftsmen and engineers. During this time Groben remained involved with design, producing several buildings for the Region and revising several more.
Phase III design was the first to be influenced more by USFS philosophy than by national or local stylistic trends. In these designs can be read the architect's struggle to reconcile Regional and National USFS design policies, current architectural trends, and local building traditions. These sometimes conflicted, as in the anomalous Art Deco designs, but more often resulted in the more successful blending of philosophy, style, and local tradition seen in its Rustic designs. Mostly devoid of superfluous ornamentation, it was the richness of texture, sense of craftsmanship, and juxtaposition of shapes and materials that made these buildings aesthetically pleasing. The result of 50 years of architectural development is a unique body of architecture that reflects both national and local architectural trends and building traditions and the philosophies of the Forest Service that included utility, respect for nature, and harmony with the environment.
Phase IV: 1943-Present
Groben's Architectural Trends of Future Forest Service Buildings (1940) attacked what he felt was the inappropriate practice of designing buildings which did not work well in plan, but were accepted and even praised because their exteriors blended well with the environment. Though not abandoning his stance on the appropriateness of regionally responsive design, Groben called for more creativity in creating, where appropriate, a style uniquely representative of the Forest Service.
The era of handcrafted construction ended with the disbandment of the CCC in 1942. Construction of new improvements was halted to allocate resources towards the war effort. The Norrie Guard Station office (Figure 175, White River National Forest), which was under construction in 1942, was based upon plans originally produced for the Centennial Ranger Station office. This building exemplifies the shift in construction philosophy caused by the Region's sudden loss of labor. Construction details were heavily modified for economy and ease of construction. Milled log cabin siding was substituted for real logs in the gables, and wall logs traditionally finished by hand with an axe were machined instead.
The end of the war brought shifts in the use of the forests, resulting in changes in administrative methods. Some permanent ranger stations became "work centers," a term meant to replace the outdated "guard station," which had acquired the wrong connotations during World War II and the Cold War (Caywood 1991:63). The term, however, had been introduced by Forest Supervisor Hutton as early as 1936 (Hutton 1936c). Other permanent stations were relocated or modified for seasonal use by recreation guards (Williams 1946). This change involved principally the conversion of the garage to living space. The REA brought electricity to some stations in the 1940s and 1950s. Though the Region continued to develop new standardized designs for dwellings, offices, garages, barns and warehouses (U.S. Forest Service 1960:78), functional requirements were very different. The Guide to Forest Service Office Design, Identification and Location (U.S. Forest Service 1983) described large public areas used for dispensing visitor information that now dominated the spatial layouts of new office design. Around 1960, visiting officers' bedrooms were eliminated from offices altogether.
Other forces have impacted the original layouts of existing buildings. These include, in part, the need for computer rooms and for more staff offices. Living facilities were converted to office space when their use by Forest Service personnel dropped after the war. Consolidation of districts and forests (Hinton 1988:VII-7) has shifted administrative uses to new central facilities, prompting second conversions to bunkhouses for seasonal employees and volunteers. Noncompetitive rent structures prompted many employees to rent or purchase private market housing, resulting in additional dwelling-bunkhouse conversions (Faulk 1994). Routine maintenance has also altered appearances. The effects of Federal building efficiency mandates and requirements for handicapped accessibility are visible in the new windows, doors, siding, and ramps visible on many buildings. Re-stained or painted logs no longer have their original shade of brown. Rotted vigas and crowns have been removed. Low maintenance metal roofing has been installed over original shake shingles.
Shifts also occurred in Forest Service architectural philosophy. New architectural ideas, functional requirements and materials, changes in construction methodology, and economic variances all contributed to the shift away from Rustic architecture towards one of functional utility and economy. New buildings, designed for maximum flexibility, reflected a "suburban" style, with low roofs and minimal overhangs (Shank 1959). This shift effectively ended the era of Forest Service Rustic architecture, though some CCC-era designs were kept as standards at least into the mid-1950s. New designs (Figure 39) retained the simple massing, natural materials, and horizontality of previous eras, but called for simpler construction methods and less defined interior spaces.
New materials and technologies replaced the log construction and handcrafted detailing on frame buildings, though rangers continued to design and construct buildings much as they had always done (Sundburg 1993). Groben (1940:12) highly disapproved of this:
Several Acts enacted in the 1960s and 1970s radically changed the way Forests administered themselves. These include: the 1960 Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act, the 1964 Wilderness Act, the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act, the 1973 Endangered Species Act, the 1974 Forest and Range Renewable Resource Planning Act, and the 1976 National Forest Management Act. All of these increased the need for larger, desk-bound staffs. Regional architecture still strives to, in Groben's words, "represent the traditions, ideals and purposes of the Forest Service" (Groben 1940:17).
Development of Recreational Architecture
Foresters became aware of the demand for recreation well before the creation of the NPS in 1916. The creation of the NPS touched off an interagency land struggle that spurred limited Forest Service development of a variety of recreational sites and buildings, including campgrounds, trails, shelters, lookouts and toilets throughout the 1920s (Williams 1994). Americans visited the Forests in record numbers, due in part to their having access to automobiles and the development of roads within the Forests. In 1925 something over five percent of the amount spent on new building construction went to campground development. Ranger stations, as well as supervisors' offices, were designed to serve a larger public. More attention was given to architectural appearance and good grounds keeping (Caywood 1991:41). Enterprising rangers like Bruce Torgny lobbied for a larger dwelling because of increasing recreational use on his district (Torgny 1936).
Construction of recreational improvements accelerated during Phase III. CCC enrollees constructed a variety of sites and buildings, including the Land's End Observatory (Figure 62, Grand Mesa National Forest), Tigiwon Community House (Figure 40), Notch Mountain Shelterhouse (Figure 176, White River National Forest) and campground toilets (e.g., Figure 98, Rio Grande National Forest). Many CCC-era recreational buildings were replaced in the late 1920s under the "Operation Outdoors" program, which expanded recreation in the National Forests.
Development of Fire Lookout Architecture
Several fire lookouts were evaluated in the report sample. Though administrative in function, lookouts represent a different aspect of Forest Service history, and their significance is best evaluated under different cultural criteria. The history of lookouts in Colorado is a subject worthy of its own study. Steer and Miller (1989) discuss the architectural development of fire lookouts within the Forest Service. A large body of lookouts and related structures once existed throughout the Region. Table 5 lists known and reported lookouts and their typologies within Colorado. The few buildings evaluated here are not fully representative of the history of the subject, but enough remain to represent most major phases of lookout development.
Table 5. Known USFS Lookout Sites in Colorado.
Data taken from National Archives Records, Denver; Forest Service Records; Region 2 Improvement Inventory; Colorado Historic Building Inventory; the National Historic Lookout Register; and the Forest Fire Lookout Association.
Lookouts served chiefly as protective elements. The development of the Regional fire lookout building typology occurred simultaneously, but largely independently of, the development of administrative building typology. Their development can, however, be grouped within the chronological phases used to define administrative development. Lookouts can also be grouped by their building typology, as defined by Steer and Miller (1989:210).
The Forest Service, as part of its basic mission of protection and conservation, of America's public lands, early recognized the need for fire suppression in the Rocky Mountains. Although forests had been constructing their own lookouts for years, the earliest known official investigation into various types and locations of fire lookouts in Region 2 did not occur until the passage of the Weeks Law in 1911 (Shoemaker 1911):
Despite the acknowledged need for fire detection facilities, no official funding was allocated for construction of fire cabins or towers until the early teens. The Weeks Law was not adopted in Colorado until the Depression (Zimmerman 1969:4). As a result, cabins and towers built during this first phase were typically constructed by rangers using scrap materials, or materials which could be found on site. Even this, however, was a step up from the tents that had been previously used to shelter lookouts. Part of the move to more permanent facilities may have been a result of a Forest Service effort to man lookout stations at night, recording lightning strikes. Lookouts would then search for telltale "smokes" the next day (Sullivan 1994). Like their administrative buildings, some regions standardized designs as early as 1915 (Caywood 1991:38). This standardization initiated the second phase of lookout development. Few construction records are known to exist for lookouts of any era. The Region 2 Improvement Inventory lists few lookout construction plans for the pre CCC or CCC eras. Further, a lack of uniformity in the descriptions of those lookouts listed indicates that there was probably little standardization of design in Region 2 prior to its use of nationally standardized designs in the 1950s. This assumption is augmented by the evaluated sites, which indicate no clear uniformity of design, construction, or typology among pre-1950s sites.
During Phase III, when the Forest Service rebuilt many of its lookouts with assistance from New Deal programs, designs become somewhat standardized. New lookouts had more sophisticated designs than their predecessors, and were to be constructed of materials which could be imported to the site. Standard designs were developed in 6, 7, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 20 foot square configurations. Those designs 14 foot square and larger were designed for full-time occupation. Smaller designs generally required separate off-duty quarters for the lookout.
Most new towers and cabs were constructed of vandal-proof steel sections that were easily bolted together on site. The Forest Service's CL-100 Series contained several lookout plans, many of which were constructed in Colorado. The Region was still using designs from this series as late as 1969. Most CL-100 Series designs were of steel construction, though some still utilized wood (Blanchard and Maher 1939:45), as seen in the roomier 16-foot-4-inch square R-6 flat-roofed plywood cab, examples of which were first constructed in 1953 and were still being built as late as the mid-1980s. During World War II, renewed emphasis was placed on fire protection as timber was rapidly harvested for the war effort (Williams 1994) and lookouts guarded against the threat of enemy incendiary bomb attacks. Several Japanese hot air balloon bombs did make it to Colorado though none caused serious damage.
The number of lookouts reached their peak in the early 1950s, when many were constructed using "protection funds" gained from the sale of timber cutting permits (Sullivan 1994). Prototype designs and entire kits were produced by private companies, though some Regions continued to develop their own designs. By the late 1960s, most areas used a combination of airplanes and fire lookouts (Zimmerman 1969:10). The use of lookouts steadily declined with increasing utilization of high frequency FM radios, airplanes, and satellite imaging. A relaxation of policy towards the necessity of quickly extinguishing all fires on the National Forests led to the abandonment and removal of many towers during the 1970s. Some that remain have been re-utilized as tourist destinations.
Fairview Peak Lookout (Figure 72, Gunnison National Forest), a one-room cabin perched atop the rocky peak of Fairview Mountain, was built before construction of lookouts was officially funded by the Forest Service. The rectangular building likely once had a glassed-in observation cupola atop the gable roof of its one-room cabin. Its construction is of local split stone, mortared with concrete. Rough-sawn rafters support a sheet-metal roof. The rough-sawn wood framing of its windows is reinforced with metal bars anchored into the stone wall.
The Leon Peak Lookout (Figure 41) was believed to have been constructed in 1911 and 1912 by Clay Withersteen. It is possible that the building was built in part by Rosco Bloss, a local seasonal USFS employee and accomplished carpenter. All materials were carried up by backpack. Karl Pfeiffer was the first lookout guard in the summer of 1912, and Rosco Bloss was lookout guard in the summers of 1914 and 1915. The lookouts and their families quartered in tents and cabins at the base of the mountain (Michaelson 1993). This lookout consisted principally of a square log room with a glass observation cupola centered on its pyramidal roof. The lookout was abandoned after the 1915 season as it was considered too dangerous in lightning storms. By 1919 the lookout was being featured in a recreational pamphlet entitled Vacation Days in the Battlement National Forest as an "Excellent opportunity to the summer traveler to view a large area of mountain forest" (U.S. Forest Service 1919). Both Fairview and Leon Peak Lookouts are representative of the period when construction of lookouts was executed primarily by rangers without standardized designs and built predominantly of materials available on site.
Parkview Lookout (Figure 122, Routt National Forest) was representative of the type best utilized above tree line. It was a single-story, one-room, stone and concrete cabin with observation windows on each wall. Built in 1915-16, it was one of the first fire towers constructed in Colorado with official funds. Its walls consisted of poured concrete mixed with local stone. Rough-milled rafters supported a low gable concrete roof. The lookout sits at an elevation of 12,296 feet, making it one of the few that violated the conventional wisdom of placing lookouts near the timber line. It overlooked portions of the heavily timbered regions of the present North Park, Middle Park, and Sulphur Ranger Districts of the Routt and Arapaho National Forests. Personnel probably quartered at the Gilsonite Guard Station (not extant) at the base of the mountain (Sullivan 1994). Although legend held that a man with a good telescope could identify individuals on the streets of nearby Rand, 10 miles to the north of the cabin, it "overscanned vital stretches of timber, and the station was eventually abandoned" (Black 1969:310).
The Hahn's Peak Lookout (Figure 42) was reconstructed in 1942 from the remains of a previous lookout (Figure 43), estimated to have been built from between Routt Forest Supervisor Harry Ratliff's estimate of 1908 or 1909 (Kay 1988) to 1912 (Stanko et al. 1979:27). Both were examples of the cupola cabin typology, which placed an observation area above a living quarters or warming room. The original structure was one of the first officially funded towers constructed in Colorado. Construction was carried out by Ratliff with the help of local rangers. The original building was functionally similar to the present one, with a stone living quarters topped by a frame lookout post. This post was surrounded by a catwalk. When the lookout post was enlarged and modernized, the open-air post atop the roof was enclosed with glass windows, a door, and a pyramidal roof. These modifications were carried out according to Forest Service plans (B247). The tower was manned until 1947.
Jersey Jim Lookout (Figure 142, San Juan National Forest) was the only Phase III lookout surveyed. It was probably originally built in 1940, but was reconstructed in the 1990s. Its wood cab stands on a treated timber tower. Devil Mountain (Figure 134, San Juan National Forest) and Eight Mile Lookouts (Figure 44) are typical examples of Phase IV steel construction. Both have flat-roofed cabs based upon the USFS CL-100 Series Aermotor steel cabs (Figure 45), and towers. Benchmark Lookout (Figure 133, San Juan National Forest), constructed in 1969, is based upon a CL-100 Series standard plan known as the R-6 flat. It consists of a treated timber tower with a plywood cab. It represents one of the last of a dying breed of manned lookouts.
(1) References to Construction and Maintenance Handbooks are seen throughout the second and third phases. The handbooks included sections pertaining to the importance of proper siting of stations, policies regarding construction techniques and materials, and procedures for design and construction. They also included construction details, advice for site supervisors and foremen, and apparently their own series (A Series) of small one-room administrative cabins. The handbooks may have been similar to Region 1's Improvement Handbook (Caywood 1991:48), which was later produced in pocket form for National distribution (USFS 1937). Construction and Maintenance Handbooks appear to have been used regularly by Region 2 personnel, as they are referenced many times in correspondence.
(2) A large number of architects, engineers, and draftsmen worked for the Regional Architectural Division during the Depression. Several practiced in the Denver area both previously and after the Depression. Though few designers are identified on the construction drawings, the influence of several can be identified through similarities to other known works. Axtens would go on to a highly awarded private practice in Denver.
Charles Jaka was a well-established Denver architect when he joined the Forest Service in 1936 or 1937. An acknowledged leader in the use of Celotex as interior decoration, Jaka is best known for having designed the first (and arguably, the best) Art Deco residences in the city (Etter 1977:36). Jaka was well known for his pioneering use of Celotex, a form of processed lumber popular then as interior finishes (Noel 1987:208). Jaka, who stayed with the Forest Service only a short time, is remembered as a "Designer of great skill and sophistication and a magnificent draftsman" (Noel 1987:208).
Architect Arthur G. Longfellow produced several designs during his short stint with the Regional Architectural Division in 1937. His known works include the Spanish Colonial Style Ranger's Dwelling No. 1 on the San Juan National Forest (see Figure 146) and a Colonial Revival dwelling on the Uncompahgre National Forest. He was also adept at the Rustic Style, modifying plans from the Sunlight Ranger Station dwelling for the new Redfeather Ranger Station dwelling (see Figure 53, Roosevelt National Forest), one of the Region's most articulate Rustic Style examples. Longfellow may have come from Region 5 where a Colonial Revival building very similar to the one later built on the Uncompahgre appeared in 1936, strangely out of context even on the West Coast and designed by an "A.G.L." (Supernowicz 1989:17).
Last Updated: 15-Jan-2008