V. PUTTING THE UNEMPLOYED TO WORK: DEPRESSION YEARS AND FEDERAL RELIEF PROGRAMS
Roosevelt's Economic Relief Programs
The twenty-ninth of October 1929 marked the beginning of the end of Republican good times of the 1920s. As the Great Crash seemed inexorably to pull an entire industrial economy into the Great Depression, voters reacted strongly, electing a Democratic president that promised a New Deal.
As the economic crisis worsened in the opening years of 1933, newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt took radical steps to check the sobering effects of the Depression. During Roosevelt's first 100 days in office, he sent repeated requests to Congress in the form of proposals aimed at alleviating the debilitating economic situation. In desperate conciliatory action the U.S. Congress acted quickly in the spring of 1933 and passed several bills that established an array of economic relief programs. The Agricultural Act provided farmers with subsidies. The Farm Credit Act aided farmers with mortgage payments. And the National Industrial Recovery Act provided aid to industry. Several acts were aimed specifically at reemployment, such as the Emergency Conservation Act (which established an organizational structure for employing men in natural, undeveloped areas and was the forerunner of the Civilian Conservation Corps). The Public Works Administration advanced funds to provide jobs for the unemployed and the Works Progress Administration directed funds to local governments to give employment to those out of work (Merrill 1981, 2-4). In total, these economic reform programs were quintessential elements of Roosevelt's New Deal administration. Three of these programs had a paramount influence on the early development of Olympic National Park: The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Public Works Administration (PWA), and the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
Born out of Franklin Roosevelt's personal belief in the spiritual and physical values inherent in working in nature and his conviction that the conservation of natural resources was ultimately important for the continued health and prosperity of the nation, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) aimed at putting a huge army of unemployed men to work on conservation projects on forest and park lands throughout the country. Roosevelt took initial action for the creation of the CCC on 21 March 1933 when he went to Congress with his message on the "Relief of Unemployment." In part, President Roosevelt's message stated:
Immediately following the message, identical bills for "The Relief of Unemployment Through the Performance of Useful Public Work and for Other Purposes" were introduced to the U.S. House and Senate. On 31 March, Congress passed legislation authorizing the creation of the CCC. Roosevelt quickly followed with an executive order to establish the Office of Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) (Salmond 1967, 12-13; Carroll 1973, 2).
Spurred by President Roosevelt's goal to have 250,000 men at work by early summer, the four federal departments responsible for the mobilization of the CCC displayed feats of organization unrivaled in U.S. peacetime history (Salmond 1967, 26). Creation of the CCC called for the cooperation of the Labor Department to select needy men, the War Department to set up camps and supply them, and the Agriculture and Interior Departments to plan and direct work projects. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, ardent conservationist and strong supporter of the National Park Service, put National Park Service Director Horace Albright in charge of coordinating CCC plans for the Department of the Interior (Shankland 1951, 299).
CCC enrollment began in early April and, by mid month, the first CCC camp was established in the George Washington National Forest near Luray, Virginia. Appropriately, this installation was named Camp Roosevelt (Throop 1979, 14). Mobilization of the CCC continued at an astonishing pace during the ensuing weeks. By 16 May enrollment reached 64,450 men; the next day 8,100 men were added; and 10,100 men were added the following day. On 1 June a peak enrollment of 13,843 was attained. And by 29 June 270,000 men were enrolled and occupied 1,330 work camps around the country (Merrill 1981, 15). By the end of 1933, enrollment reached 500,000. In its peak year, 1935, 519,000 enrollees were distributed in more than 2,650 camps (Carroll 1973, 3). Before World War II ended the program in 1942, more than three million men served in the CCC (Trefethen 1975, 230).
During the nine year history of the Civilian Conservation Corps, every state in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) had one or more CCC camps. In addition to main camps, side (or spike) camps were established in the latter half of 1933. These smaller, temporary side camps were set up when travel distances between the main camp and their work sites were too great (Salmond 1967, 46; Merrill 1981, 16).
Under the direction of the U.S. Army, organization of the Civilian Conservation Corps adhered to military corps areas already established. Washington state, along with Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Montana, comprised the ninth corps area. The headquarters for the four districts covering the state of Washington were, in most cases, established at major military installations. Western Washington, from the mouth of the Columbia River north and from the Pacific Ocean to Spokane, fell under the jurisdiction of the Fort Lewis (in Tacoma) CCC district. Between 1933 and 1937, Fort Worden in Port Townsend and Fort Lawton in Seattle were also involved in training new enrollees before they were sent to camps throughout the district. Six governmental agencies were represented within the Fort Lewis District: The National Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Soil Conservation Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, the State Parks and the State Forests. The National Forest Service presided over most of the work projects throughout Washington (Carroll 1973, 4, 10, 12, 25).
In early April 1933, Fort Lewis was issued orders to train new enrollees and to organize them into CCC companies. The first 250 enrollees entered Fort Lewis on 2 May 1933 and every hour thereafter fifty to seventy-five men entered the post until 2,500 men were enlisted for training. Under the Fort Lewis commanding officer, Brigadier General Joseph C. Castner, the first ten CCC camps were established in western Washington. Four of the initial ten camps in the Fort Lewis District were located at Humptulips, Lake Cushman, Quilcene and Elwha on the Olympic Peninsula. By 24 May 1933 a total of seven CCC camps were approved on the Olympic Peninsula. In addition to those camps at Elwha, Quilcene, Lake Cushman and Humptulips, there were Forest Service camps at Snider, Slab Camp, and the Bogachiel-Hoh (Carroll 1973, 10-13, 164). The 300,000 acre Mount Olympus National Monument had no CCC camps at that time.
In 1983 Olympic National Park extends far beyond the boundaries of the pre-1938 national monument. Of the CCC camps established on Olympic National Forest land in the early and mid 1930s, some CCC camp sites now are contained within the Park. The impact of the work accomplished by the Civilian Conservation Corps in Olympic National Park is, today, clearly evident.
Camp Elwha. Among the most active CCC camps within the present Olympic National Park was Camp Elwha, located on a gently sloping hillside several hundred yards south of the present Elwha Ranger Station. As one of the first CCC camps established on the north Olympic Peninsula, the arrival of the "forest army" on the Elwha River aroused great interest among local residents. On 10 June 1933 the Port Angeles Evening News devoted headline space and several columns to describing the establishment of the Elwha Camp, known as F-17:
The work program outlined for both the main Elwha Camp and the side camp at Slab Camp in the hills southeast of Port Angeles included the construction of roads from the Elwha Ranger Station to Hayes River (on the Elwha River); from Danz Ranch at the forest boundary to Deer Park lookout, to Ennis Creek Ranger Station, and then to the Lost Mountain Road; and from the Little River Road to Ennis Creek Ranger Station. Work plans also called for the widening and straightening of the Olympic (Boulder Creek) Hot Springs Road plus the improvement of several campgrounds (PAEN 1933, 10 June).
A month later, in mid July, the tents at the Elwha CCC Camp were gone and the headquarters for the 180-man company had taken on the look of permanence. Added to the original cluster of camp buildings were four 104 x 22 foot barracks structures, a mess hall, an administration building, a bathhouse with a "Niagara Falls" shower and ancillary workshops and storage buildings. Road projects were also proceeding with haste. By mid July, one and one-half miles of road were completed to Glines Canyon, and road crews were pushing toward Heart O'the Hills. The local press noted, "The road jobs now being carried forward by the CCC crews in the Elwha forest district will effect improvements of vital importance to [the] protection of Olympic timber from fire" (PAEN 1933, 19 July).
The morale of the first recruitment of Elwha CCC enrollees was exceptionally high. According to journalistic accounts, every member of the fledgling camp claimed that "Elwha camp has the finest crew of any in the country" (PAEN 1933, 19 July). In the early months of operation, there were reportedly few withdrawals; the men were healthy and spirits exuberant. One reason for this initial good spirit at the Elwha Camp may be attributed to the high percentage of enrollees from Clallam County, Seattle, and Bellingham, Washington. These men were fairly familiar and comfortable with the surroundings (PAEN 1933, 19 July). Unlike many CCC camps across the country that consisted of men transported great distances to their place of assignment, the early Elwha CCC camp was comprised of men almost exclusively from western Washington.
At the end of the first six month recruitment period, the esprit de corps continued to remain high as demonstrated by the great percentage of reenlistments and the reported accomplishments of the company. In late September 1933, the Port Angeles Evening News stated:
Road building projects, which was to be the major thrust of Camp Elwha's energies, continued unabated. By mid September 1933, a five-mile section of "truck trail" was completed up the Elwha River to Wolf Creek. A second major project involving road connections with the CCC Slab Camp/Danz Ranch, was likewise pushing forward (PAEN 1933, 21 September). Far from any roads, the CCC undertook the construction of a four-horse, shake-sided barn at Elkhorn Ranger Station during the summer of 1933 (UW 1934, 20 August).
By early 1934, twenty-two miles of road were completed by the Elwha CCC crews. A small crew was about to begin widening the road to Olympic (Boulder Creek) Hot Springs. Fifty men, still located at the Danz Ranch side camp, worked on roads to Deer Park and to Ennis Creek. A newly established side camp at Heart O'the Hills had thirty-five men engaged in building a thoroughfare from Heart O'the Hills to Coleman's Ranch on the Little River. The road building projects accomplished by the crews from Camp Elwha aimed at providing the Forest Service with "a continuous roadway from the Elwha River to Slab Camp and the Deer Park region by way of Little River, Mount Angeles and Ennis creek" (PAEN 1934, 6 January). New telephone connections that eventually followed this route, plus the roads themselves, were principally for fire protection purposes.
At the outset of 1934 other projects, in addition to the construction of roads, were in progress or planned. These projects included the installation of a water and light system at the Elwha CCC Camp, and the construction of a new Ennis Creek Guard Station on the Mount Angeles Road near Heart O'the Hills. In addition, work on public campgrounds on the Elwha River at Lake Mills, Whiskey Bend and Altaire, was planned (PAEN 1934, 6 January).
Civilian Conservation Corps camps typically were located and relocated depending on the priority of work projects in a particular geographic area. Under the direction of the Forest Service, CCC camps and side camps on the Olympic National Forest were moved on several occasions during the 1930s. One year after the establishment of CCC Camp Elwha, orders were issued to abandon the campsite and relocate to a site seven and one-half miles north of Humptulips in the southern end of the Olympic Peninsula. (CCC Camp Snider, west of Lake Crescent, and Camp Twin, on the Strait of Juan de Fuca coast, west of Port Angeles, also shifted their companies in 1934.) While the corpsmen at Elwha made preparation for their move to Humptulips in May, other CCC crews from the Louella CCC Camp near Sequim, took over completion of the road to Deer Park (PAEN 1934, 3 April). In recognition of the efforts of the CCC in completing the winding Deer Park Road, it became known as "The Highway of the CCC" (Carroll 1973, 103).
The phase out of CCC Camp Elwha was only temporary. In late September 1934 official announcement came from the Forest Service regional office in Portland, Oregon, that the abandoned but intact Elwha Camp (as well as the Snider and Twin Camps) would be restored to activity in October that year. During the winter months of 1934 and 1935, the Elwha CCC Camp was among fifteen National Forest Service camps in the state of Washington (PAEN 1934, 24 September).
For three years in the late 1930s Camp Elwha was used only at intervals as a small side camp (PAEN 1937, 16 July). Only sporadically CCC corpsmen continued to undertake projects on Forest Service land in the vicinity of the Elwha River drainage. In the spring of 1935 "improvements" were made to both the Elwha and Altaire public campgrounds. Betterments at these two campgrounds included work on roads, trails, camping spots, the installation of water pipes, playground equipment, horse-shoe courts for adults, and the construction of sturdy, open-sided community kitchens. The Port Angeles Evening News exuded enthusiasm in its description of the improvements at Altaire Campground made by the CCC: "There's a splendid community kitchen, of rustic design, with a concrete floor and two 54-inch stoves built of rock and cement. There are long tables beside the kitchen and about the grounds are 17 tables and sufficient stoves, all constructed of stone, to take care of as many parties as the tables accommodate" (PAEN 1935, 27 March).
The Elwha and Altaire community kitchens, in 1983, are the only two remaining CCC structures of this type in Olympic National Park. Built of natural peeled logs, shakes and masonry, the rustic materials and careful proportioning of these structures blend well with their immediate natural surroundings. The Elwha and Altaire community kitchens are representative examples of rustic style architecture, which became a hallmark of the CCC throughout the country (Throop 1979, 58).
When a large contingency of CCC enrollees transferred from Camp Snider several miles west of Lake Crescent, to Camp Elwha in the spring of 1937, additional campground development was undertaken at Olympic (Boulder Creek) Hot Springs, Deer Park and Ennis Creek, at the base of Mount Angeles. In addition CCC crews made further improvements to the Olympic Hot Springs Road and the Hurricane Ridge Road. Work crews at Deer Park, an Elwha side camp, pursued work on a new ski run and completed an addition to the Deer Park Camp building to accommodate winter ski parties (PAEN 1937, 21 April; 16 July).
During the CCC's tenure at Camp Elwha several changes and additions were made by corpsmen to the existing Forest Service Elwha Ranger Station buildings. Eleven buildings stood at the ranger station site at the time the CCC established their camp nearby in 1933. Among the first projects undertaken by the Elwha CCC enrollees was the construction of a porch on the main ranger station building (PAEN 1933, 19 July). Two years later, in 1935, the ranger station was moved slightly, an addition was constructed and landscaping around the ranger station completed (PAEN 1935, 27 March). During the mid 1930s, corpsmen from the Elwha Camp worked on other projects at the ranger station. On Griff Creek, separating the CCC camp from the ranger station, CCC men built a water wheel to furnish electricity to the ranger station office and ranger residence (PAEN 1934, 21 March). Near the ranger station office, an incinerator was constructed for burning refuse from the CCC camp and public campgrounds in the area. The erection of the gas, oil and grease rack building in the utility area represented the largest outlay of CCC manpower and money at the Elwha Ranger Station (PAEN 1935, 27 March). It is the only building built totally by CCC labor in the ranger station complex that stands on its original site. The decorative pine tree design, used throughout the nation as the logo of both the Forest Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps, is cut out of boards on the porch and at the upper gable ends of this building (Throop 1979, 42). It symbolizes and serves as a constant visual reminder of the contribution of the CCC to the Elwha Ranger Station.
In addition to visible structural changes completed at the Elwha Ranger Station and elsewhere, the construction and maintenance of roads, and the development of campground facilities in forests on the north Olympic Peninsula, Forest Service Camp F-19 on the Elwha River planned and executed numerous other projects between 1933 and 1938. Elwha corpsmen constructed and maintained trails, built bridges, erected signs and markers, conducted surveys, constructed fences and guard rails, laid and maintained telephone lines, built parking areas and parking overlooks, razed "undesirable" structures, suppressed fires and conducted field plantings (NARS:RG 95 1934, 1 June; 1937, 6 August; ca. 1938 n.d.). The exact geographic locations of many Camp Elwha projects are not always readily identifiable and, in fact, much of their work has been obliterated over the years. However, the overall effect of the various CCC projects undertaken by the Elwha Camp is very much a part of the overall development of recreational use in certain areas in the northern part of Olympic National Park.
The work of the Elwha CCC Camps is not unique but, in fact, is representative of the kinds of projects pursued by several other work camps supervised by the National Forest Service on the Olympic Peninsula. Prior to the 1938 creation of Olympic National Park, other CCC main camps and side camps located on Forest Service land around the Peninsula likewise stimulated recreational activity in areas now contained in the Park.
Camp Snider. National Forest Service Snider CCC Camp, F-16, located approximately ten miles west of Lake Crescent on U.S. Highway 101 (and now outside Olympic National Park, was established on the Olympic National Forest in the spring of 1933 (PAEN 1933, 10 June). Like the Elwha Camp, some of Camp Snider's greatest efforts were directed at building roads and trails, extending telephone lines, establishing lookout stations, and pursuing other activities related to the prevention and control of forest fires. Aimed at making sections of the Hoh River watershed more accessible in case of fire, Snider CCC Camp crews built fifteen miles of road along the Hoh River. Additional miles of protective roads were constructed in the area of a large burn that destroyed thousands of acres of timber in the Soleduck River drainage in 1907. Included in the Soleduck Burn project was a half mile extension of road to the Ovington Road, paralleling the north shore of Lake Crescent. Another road related project completed by the Camp Snider CCC company was the replacement of the Soldier's Bridge that crosses the Elwha River just below Altaire Campground (NFS ONF ca. 1937, n.d.).
Snider CCC work crews completed work on two campgrounds now situated within the present boundaries of Olympic National Park. During the winter of 1934-1935, Lapoel Campground, on the south shore of Lake Crescent, was completely reconstructed by CCC labor. Improvements included a rustic log octagonal community kitchen with a central, stone and masonary fireplace, a log and shake-sided comfort building, eighteen stone cooking furnaces (fireplaces) at individual camping spots, stone drinking fountains, tables and benches of half-round cedar logs, and rest rooms (NFS OLYM 1936, 189; NFS ONF ca. 1937, n.d.). (None of the CCC constructed structures are extant in 1983; however, the site at Lapoel is still maintained as a picnic area.) Situated on the banks of the Soleduck River about one-half mile above the hot springs Camp Snider CCC crews completed work on the Soleduck Campground. Overnight visitors at the campground could select their campsite from twenty-two individual campsites furnished with stoves and rustic tables with one piece cedar tops (NFS ONF ca. 1937, n.d.).
Finally, Snider CCC Camp enrollees worked with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and the State Game Commission to plant 77,000 trout in the higher lakes and headwaters of streams in Clallam County during the summer of 1933. The CCC assisted in transporting these fish by pack horse to remote locations in the Olympic Mountains, many of which are undoubtedly inside the present Olympic National Park boundaries (NFS ONF ca. 1937, n.d.).
Camp Cushman. In addition to the Snider CCC Camp other main CCC camps on Olympic National Forest land completed work in areas now within Olympic National Park. The Lake Cushman CCC Camp was one of three permanently built camps established in the Fort Lewis District during the first six months of the CCC program (NFS ONF 1937, 25). By 1934 a small contingent of men from the main Lake Cushman Camp (located just outside the Park) was moved to a spike camp at Staircase, presently located within the Park boundaries (Goodpasture 1984). Over the next several months frame buildings, including a tool shed, blacksmith shop, and vehicle storage buildings, were erected in the area of the present utility area at Staircase Ranger Station. During the mid 1930s CCC enrollees based at the Staircase side camp built and maintained roads, trails and telephone lines, completed work on shelters and campgrounds, and fought forest fires at several locations in the North Fork Skokomish River drainage. William Goodpasture, a former CCC enrollee at Wenatchee and Belfair, Washington, and long time resident of Hoodsport, recalled that the CCC based at Staircase was responsible for building and improving sections of trail to Flapjack Lakes, Black and White Lakes, and Lake Sundown, and along Six Stream and upper Four Stream (Goodpasture 1984). Goodpasture noted that "virtually all trails in the Staircase area were worked on by the CCC" (Goodpasture 1984).
The CCC completed work on Flapjack Lakes Shelter and Nine Stream Shelter. Camp Pleasant and the present Staircase Campground benefited from work conducted by the CCC corpsmen at Staircase. In addition, the CCC completed maintenance work on sections of road above the Staircase Ranger Station and in the area of Bear Gulch Camp. Finally, the CCC contingent from Staircase maintained miles of telephone line and fought forest fires in the Staircase area. (Corpsmen at two other nearby spike camps on National Forest land, one at Hamma Hamma and the other at Dosewallips, completed trail work in the mid 1930s, some of which undoubtedly extended inside the present Park boundaries (Goodpasture 1984).)
In 1955 heavy snowfall collapsed the roofs of many of the Staircase CCC Camp buildings. Soon afterwards Park personnel removed the building remains. Today, in 1983, a small utility building standing about 500 feet east of the Staircase Ranger Station remains as the last physical evidence of the spike camp building complex at Staircase (NPS OLYM ca. 1976).
For the Forest Service, who supervised the great majority of Civilian Conservation Corps projects on the Olympic Peninsula between 1933 and 1938, the mid 1930s were a period of accelerated resource development. Clarence Adams, a National Forest Service employee working on the Peninsula in the 1930s, described the period: "The CCC days were hectic with much activity; lots of boy-power in numbers; and a period of road and building construction, recreational activities; and last but not least important, an increased activity of real forestry practices, such as planting, timber stand improvement, and fire protection. . . ." (NFS ONF 1946, 15 August).
Particularly in the area of recreational activity, the CCC left an indelible imprint on sections of the Peninsula that became incorporated into Olympic National Park.
In 1936, while extended discussion and debate focused on the advisability of creating a national park on the Olympic Peninsula, Forester W. H. Horning studied the area considered for a park and submitted a report containing recommendations for the use of the CCC in developing the proposed park. Horning anticipated that CCC labor could be used on several work projects in the new park, particularly if major undertakings included extensive road construction. Horning noted:
Aside from major road construction projects, Horning speculated: "The principal development work in the park will probably be restricted to a few new trails required to complete the existing trail system, additional trailside shelters considered essential to public use of the Olympic wilderness, and several additional guard stations for strategic locations at entrance ways to the park." Horning recommended that main CCC camps be established at Lake Crescent and Quinault Lake with "subcamps" at Olympic Hot Springs, Sol Duc Hot Springs, Jackson Guard Station, Hamma Hamma Road end, Dosewallip Forks, North Fork Quinault Guard Station and Graves Creek (NPS OLYM 1936, 87-88).
Two years later, in 1938, Olympic National Park was established. The newly created 682,000 acre Park greatly enlarged the size of Mount Olympus National Monument and took in much of the surrounding National Forest Service land where CCC activities had been prevalent. With a large area under the administration of the National Park Service, and limited personnel and funds to manage the area, Olympic National Park Superintendent Preston Macy looked to the Civilian Conservation Corps for assistance in developing the new Park.
Camp Elwha. The first opportunity for securing help from the CCC came less than one year after the establishment of the Park. In March 1938, CCC Director Robert Fechner ordered a 291-camp reduction across the country to accommodate budgetary cutbacks in the national CCC program. Against local Chamber of Commerce protests, the Elwha CCC Camp was scheduled for abandonment by late May of that year (PAEN 1938, 20 March). Six months later, while plans for the Elwha abandonment were still in sway, Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent O. A. Tomlinson wrote the National Park Service regional engineer: "Chances are excellent for obtaining a CCC camp for the Olympic Park. Forest Supervisor Bruckart yesterday told me the Forest Service will be glad to let us have the Elwha Camp as they are going to abandon it shortly" (NARS:RG 79 1938a, 7 September).
In late September 1938 it was publicly announced that CCC Camp Elwha and its men, located on National Forest Service land outside the newly estalished Park boundaries, would be turned over to the National Park Service sometime in the next few months (PAEN 1938, 30 September). On 1 December 1938, the transfer was accomplished. By January 1939 the National Park Service displayed their insignia at the Elwha Camp signifying the transfer of the camp and its CCC enrollees to the National Park Service. Corpsmen were immediately put to work constructing large, rustic entrance signs for the new Park and planning for the reconstruction of hiking and truck trails that could be easily reached during the winter season (NARS:RG 79 1939, 12 January).
Over the next several months work crews based at Elwha CCC Camp (redesignated as NP-1, and later NP-9) embarked on numerous work projects throughout the northern portion of the Park. In 1939 an Elwha side camp was set up on the Soleduck River. One year later a side camp at both Deer Park and on the Bogachiel River were established to assist with projects assigned to the main Elwha CCC Camp (NARS:RG 79 1940, 27 May, 10 June, 5 August). Work undertaken by the main Elwha CCC Camp and its side camps included a wide range of projects. Elwha corpsmen improved and maintained roads, parking areas and trails, landscaped and surveyed, maintained telephone lines, installed water systems and sewer lines, searched for missing persons, suppressed fires, erected signs and markers, developed campground areas, and constructed trailside shelters and administrative buildings (NARS:RG 79 1940, 20 June). Projects completed by CCC crews at the end of the 1939 season of work included maintenance work on the Olympic (Boulder Creek) Hot Springs, Sol Duc Hot Springs, Hoh River, Hurricane Ridge and North Shore Lake Crescent Roads (PAEN 1939, 20 October). In addition, the CCC completed trailside shelters at Sol Duc Falls, Moose Lake and Hoh Lake. (PAEN 1939, 20 October; NARS:RG 79 1939a, 29 December; 1940a, 9 January; 1941, 20 March).
Between 1939 and 1942, the National Park Service supervised Elwha CCC work efforts that focused on certain areas of the Park. In the Soleduck area, work crews developed a campground facility and completed a parking area at the end of the Soleduck Road, rehabilitated five side camp buildings, completed stone work as part of a landscaping project, constructed a powerhouse and lighting plant and improved the water supply system, all at Eagle Guard Station (Soleduck Ranger Station) (NARS:RG 79 1939, 29 October, 22 December, 25 July; 1939b 29 December; 1940b, 9 January; 1942, 12 January; 1942a 26 March). CCC work crews working at Deer Park cleared and enlarged an area at Deer Park for expanded winter use, laid pipeline, completed minimal work on the Deer Park side camp area, and performed maintenance on the Deer Park Road within the present Park boundaries (NARS:RG 79 1941, 14 October; 1942e, 25 March).
At Lake Crescent, in addition to clearing and burning debris from the shores of the lake, CCC efforts were concentrated in the La Poel area on the south shore of the lake (NARS:RG 79 1939, 20 April). CCC enrollees cut and transported local stone and lumber for the construction of the La Poel Patrol Cabin, installed a water and sewer system at the cabin, constructed a combination garage and wood storage building at La Poel, landscaped the grounds adjacent to the patrol cabin and completed some extension of, and improvement to, La Poel picnic area (NARS:RG 79 1940, 21 June; 1941, 25 March, 28 March, 17 May; 1942b, 26 March).
In 1941 Elwha CCC Camp corpsmen undertook two jobs in the southern reaches of the Park. At Graves Creek corpsmen transported materials for the construction of the Graves Creek Patrol Cabin and constructed a combination garage and wood storage building at the patrol cabin (NARS:RG 79 1940, 21 June; 1941, 31 December). Finally, an Elwha CCC Camp enrollee and nationally known wildlife authority, A. E. Kitchen, undertook a more unusual project. He catalogued and mounted numerous specimens for display (NARS:RG 79 1942, 21 July).
As the only CCC camp undertaking projects in the new Park, the Elwha CCC Camp and its side camps concentrated most of their efforts for the first year and a half in the northern areas of the Park. In the wake of the Depression and at the eve of U.S. involvement in World War II, funds for managing and developing the Park were difficult to secure. Park administrators eagerly sought the assistance of additional manpower from the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Camp Quinault. In early March 1940 Olympic National Park received assurance of allocation for its second CCC camp. One month later Park Superintendent Preston Macy reported to the Park Service director: "Plans are progressing speedily for the establishment of a new CCC camp, NP-10, to be built at Norwood Guard Station [on Olympic National Forest] near Lake Quinault (NPS OLYM 1940, 10 April). During the early months of the summer, construction of the new camp was rushed to completion. On 12 August the camp was immediately occupied when a full company of enrollees was transferred from the Millersylvania Camp near Olympia, Washington, to Quinault Lake. With facilities for 200 enrollees the new camp at Quinault, when fully occupied, doubled the manpower available for Park work (NPS OLYM 1940, 10 September).
Work projects undertaken by the CCC at the Quinault camp were proposed for the North Fork Quinault and the East Fork Quinault Rivers, and the Enchanted Valley and the Low Divide areas (NARS:RG 79 1940a, 5 December). Early in the life of Camp NP-10, CCC crews focused attention on the Graves Creek area. In 1942 enrollees at the new camp developed the public campground at Graves Creek, constructed a powerhouse (lighting plant) and completed landscaping projects at Graves Creek Ranger Station (NARS:RG 79 1942, 18 June; 1942a & b, 14 June).
Throughout the southern portion of the Park, Quinault CCC camp engaged in a myriad of other projects as well. Along the East and North Fork Quinault Rivers, several hundred man days were spent on road improvement and maintenance, roadside fire hazard reduction, telephone line maintenance and trail maintenance (NARS:RG 79 1942b & c, 15 January; 1942a, 25 March; 1942, 8 September, 22 September; 1942b, 23 September). CCC crews completed work on the Bunch Creek Bridge across the East Fork Quinault River (NARS:RG 79 1942a, 23 September). For a brief period, corpsmen contributed hours to the operation and maintenance of the Quinault Fish Hatchery (NARS:RG 79 1942b, 25 March). At July, Muncaster and Graves Creeks, the CCC completed campground maintenance (NARS:RG 79 1942d, 25 March). In 1941, one year after President Roosevelt authorized the expenditure of monies for the acquisition of the Queets Corridor and the Pacific Ocean Coastal Strip, CCC men from the main Quinault Camp rehabilitated buildings at Kalaloch for utilization as a side CCC camp (NARS:RG 79 1941, 15 November).
Perhaps the most unexpected work projects pursued by Quinault CCC Camp enrollees came with the onset of the United States involvement in World War II. In early 1942 an aircraft warning observation unit for national defense was established at the National Forest Service Quinault Ranger Station. Initially, local citizens held down day and night shifts at the ranger station where they listened for passing planes. On 12 January 1942 Superintendent Preston Macy requested that CCC enrollees from Quinault CCC Camp NP-10 assist volunteer air warning observers in this emergency wartime program (NARS:RG 79 1942a, 15 January).
Of all the projects undertaken by the Civilian Conservation Corps in Olympic National Park, perhaps none has more historical significance and present conspicuous visual impact than the main administration buildings at the Park headquarters in Port Angeles, Washington. It was only with extensive utilization of CCC labor, combined with large sums of money funneled to the Park through two other New Deal economic relief programs, that the establishment of the Park headquarters was assured.
As part of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal administration, two programs, in addition to the Civilian Conservation Corps, that greatly facilitated the solid administrative establishment of Olympic National Park, were the Public Works Administration (PWA) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The PWA was born during the first one hundred days of Roosevelt's term in office. In the spring of 1933, the administration hammered out the two-part National Industrial Recovery bill: the first part set codes of fair competition to promote cooperation among trade groups, while the second part established the Public Works Administration. Congress appropriated three and a third billion dollars to carry out the work of the PWA. When Roosevelt signed the National Industrial Recovery bill on 16 June, he called it "a challenge to industry, which has long insisted that, given the right to act in unison, it could do much for the general good which has hitherto been unlawful. From today it has that right" (Blum, et al. 1973, 633).
Under the direction of Department of the Interior Secretary Harold Ickes, and with National Park Service Director Horace Albright serving as project coordinator, the PWA emerged as one of the nation's leading builders of large scale public works projects. Between 1933 and 1939, the PWA helped construct seventy percent of the nation's new school buildings; sixty-five percent of the country's courthouses, city halls, and sewage plants; and thirty-five percent of its hospitals and public health facilities. With PWA funding the U.S. Navy built the aircraft carriers Yorktown and Enterprise, the cruiser Vincennes, and several other light cruisers, destroyers, submarines, gunboats and combat planes. Grants from PWA assisted the U.S. Army Air Corps in building over one hundred planes and over fifty military airports. The PWA engaged in such projects as the electrification of the Pennsylvania Railroad between New York and Washington, D.C., the construction of New York's Lincoln Tunnel, the port at Brownsville, Texas, and a series of bridges on Oregon's coastal highway. While the accomplishments of the PWA numbered in the hundreds, Roosevelt's growing fear of economic inflation led him to cut drastically PWA support in the summer of 1937 (Leuchtenburg 1963, 133, 244). By 1939, the PWA faded from existence.
Two years after the creation of the PWA, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was established. (The agency name was changed to Works Projects Administration in 1939.) With the Depression in its fifth year and new people added to welfare rolls every day, Roosevelt proposed a gigantic program of emergency public employment in January 1935. Three months later the Senate agreed to give the president discretionary control of relief wages and passed the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act. This law, which permitted Roosevelt to spend almost five billion dollars, authorized "the greatest single appropriation in the history of the United States or any other nation" (Leuchtenburg 1963, 125). Under the direction of Harry L. Hopkins, a New York social worker, a series of agencies were formed to provide aid for the unemployed. The best known was the Works Progress Administration (Blum, et al. 1973, 635).
By offering workers more than the relief dole but less that the prevailing wage, so as not to discourage private employment, the WPA aimed at employing three and a half million jobless at public works projects. While the PWA specialized in heavy, durable projects, the WPA concentrated on light public works. Between 1935 and 1941, the WPA spent over eleven billion dollars on 250,000 small scale construction projects. It built or improved more than 2,500 hospitals, 5,900 school buildings, 1,000 airfields and almost 13,000 playgrounds. In addition to public works projects, the WPA also employed actors, writers, and artists (Kelley 1975, 760). WPA's Federal Theatre Project, Federal Writers' Project, and Federal Art Project, produced plays and concerts, local histories and guide books, and frescoed the walls of post offices and schools across the nation (Leuchtenburg 1963, 126-28). During its lifetime the WPA put over three million unemployed workers to work and spent almost one and a half billion dollars (Leuchtenburg 1963, 130). The PWA, the WPA and Roosevelt's myriad number of other relief programs represent a period in American history when the federal government played a key role improving the social and economic welfare of the country, during a time of severe national uncertainty, declining faith and persistent despair.
Like the PWA which had National Park Service Director Horace Albright as the project coordinator, the National Park Service became intimately involved in the administration of the WPA. At first the Park Service assumed responsibility for planning and technical supervision of WPA work camps. Later they controlled the disposition of funds for the entire program (Kieley 1940, 38). Under the aegis of the National Park Service, the newly created Olympic National Park was in an advantageous position for receiving assistance from both the PWA and the WPA.
Park Headquarters. Soon after the creation of the Park, Park Service administrators requested PWA assistance. It was noted in an undated document that the construction of a headquarters unit was a top priority for National Park Service PWA project funds. This document noted: "The National Park Service, in order to protect and administer the new Olympic National Park, must establish a headquarters, a site for which has been selected on Peabody Heights at Port Angeles, Washington, centrally located on the northern part of the Olympic Peninsula and close to the Park." A total of $470,000 of PWA funds was recommended for allocation to the Park, of which $226,000 was earmarked for the headquarters unit (NARS:RG 79 ca. 1938, n.d.). Superintendent Tomlinson of Mount Rainier National Park confidently stated: "The Olympic National Park headquarters in Port Angeles will be unique as all other national park headquarters establishments are located within the actual park boundaries" (PAEN 1938, 30 September). By late September 1938 Public Works Administration funds were allocated to the Park and on 17 October the Park Service regional director authorized the expenditure of funds. Authorization required that construction of the administration building and the custodian's (superintendent's) residence begin by 1 December, the garage by 10 December, and the warehouse by 15 December (NPS OLYM 1938, 18 October).
Delays ensued and a year passed before substantial work began at the Park headquarters site. The federal government did not accept the property title to the thirty-eight acre headquarters area, and the Park did not receive building plans and specifications until the late fall of 1939. (NARS:RG 79 1940, 28 May).
Finally, work at the site began. In October 1939 the Port Angeles Evening News gave a progress report of the project:
Construction work at the site under both the PWA and CCC proceeded slowly at first, but by April 1940 the headquarters area, aside from the city pulp mills, was touted as the "busiest place in Port Angeles." According to the Port Angeles Evening News, crews were rushing construction of the administration building and the superintendent's residence, and were occupied with extensive landscaping work. "Approximately 200 persons in all are engaged in the various phases of the work," the newspaper reported. The same newspaper article continued:
The Port Angeles Evening News noted: "Native materials are being used as much as possible in the two buildings. The park service plans were designed with the idea of making the headquarters area and structures thoroughly representative of the Olympic National Park vicinity" (PAEN 1940, 13 April). CCC corpsmen quarried stone for much of the buildings and outside walkways from nearby Tumwater Creek. Exterior sheathing used on the upper portion of the buildings was of locally cut shakes (PAEN 1940, 13 April) Plants native to the area, including over 200 rhododendrons and dozens of vine maple, dogwood, mock orange, red flowering currant, broad leaf maple, sword ferns and cattails, were secured locally. WPA and CCC work crews planted this assortment of greenery around the administration building, the superintendent's residence, the parking areas, along the margins of the lawn areas and around a pond created in a natural basin near the entrance to the headquarters area (NARS:RG 79 1942c 26 March; NPS OLYM 1940, 10 April). With journalistic hyperbole the April 1940 newspaper account delcared "results already showing at the park headquarters property indicate the area and its buildings will be an outstanding show place of the Olympic Peninsula and a great asset to Port Angeles" (PAEN 1940, 13 April).
Although Park Superintendent Preston Macy estimated that the administration building and the superintendent's residence were twenty-five percent completed in April 1940 (NPS OLYM 1940, 10 April), difficulties plagued the project throughout the early months of that year. Continuous rainfall handicapped excavations and landscaping projects. Delays were encountered in obtaining materials. Locating skilled stone masons was time-consuming and costly and the cost of employing skilled labor exceeded expectations and budgets (NARS:RG 79 1940, 28 May). With the administration building seventy percent complete and the superintendent's residence eighty percent complete by June 1940, construction was temporarily suspended at the end of the month due to exhaustion of the original PWA allotment (NPS OLYM 1940, n.d.).
Additional funds were forthcoming and the two buildings were ready for occupancy by October 1940. (Due to lack of funds, some finish details and work in the basement of the administration building remained unfinished until 1944 (NARS:RG 79 1945, 14 January). Two other buildings in the headquarters area were substantially completed in late 1940: the gas and oil house and the transformer vault and pumphouse. The following year the equipment shed/carpenter shop were nearly finished. In June 1941 the sixth and final building constructed as part of the original headquarters complexthe equipment and supply storage buildingwas begun using money allocated from the CCC program. When the CCC program was abandoned soon afterward, only the east end (constructed of stone) and the center garage stall of the building (later known as the warehouse and fire cache) were near completion. In June 1944 additional funds were provided for the completion of the west end of the building (NARS:RG 79 ca. 1944b, n.d.). In 1965 a fire totally destroyed the west end of the building. Today the general landscaping and the exterior of the original six buildings constructed in the headquarters area, except for the west portion of the equipment and supply storage building, are substantially intact.
Additional PWA Projects. While much of the PWA funds allocated for Olympic National Park were directed at construction of the headquarters area, smaller allotments were used to hire employees to work on other projects in the Park. Even before the creation of the Park over $400 of Public Works Administration money was approved for construction of the Bogachiel lookout within the boundaries of Mount Olympus National Monument (NARS:RG 79 1934, 7 August). Soon after the creation of the Park, PWA employees became actively involved in developing certain backcountry areas. In early 1939 the regional office of the Park Service assessed the array of work activities contemplated for the new Park and how PWA employees would be put to use. "There will . . . be guard and ranger stations to build and a few trail shelters for the hikers and riders for whom this park is particularly designed. There will be no highways through the park. There are now 300 miles of trail, much of which must be worked over and improved. The Service plans construction of not more than 30 or 40 miles of new trail. It [sic] will be built by PWA employees" (NARS:RG 79 1939, 1 January). PWA funds were authorized for a fire lookout tower, fire patrol cabins and trailside shelters before the Park was even one year old (NPS OLYM 1938, 18 October). Under the PWA program, Park managers scheduled trail revisions and reconstruction for sections of trail between Heart Lake and Enchanted Valley, the Soleduck and Bogachiel Rivers, Lake Mary and Chicago Camp, and along the North Fork Quinault River and Kimta Creek (NARS:RG 79 1938, 13 December).
In addition to expenditures for employee payrolls, PWA funds were used for the acquisition of privately owned land. Less than two years after the establishment of the 682,000 acre Park, President Roosevelt enlarged the Park by authorizing the acquisition of approximately 50,000 acres of land in the Queets River Valley and along the Pacific Ocean. In 1940, $1,585,000 of Public Works Administration monies were allotted to this PWA acquisition area project. An additional $115,000 of PWA funds were allocated for the purchase of lands within the Park boundaries (NARS:RG 79 1940b, 5 December). Much of this money was initially directed at purchasing privately owned parcels of land adjacent to Lake Crescent, including the acquisition and development of the 12.49 acre Rosemary Inn property (NARS:RG 79 1942, 20 October). In addition to the actual purchase of land, large sums were proposed to cover the cost of geological surveys, fire, radio and road equipment, ranger station units, campground development and minor road construction (NARS:RG 79 1940, 22 August).
With the impending threat of, and eventual U.S. military involvement in, World War II in 1941, America turned its attention away from those federal relief programs that were so instrumental in the early development of the Park. Great quantities of money and men expended on Roosevelt's economic recovery programs during the Depression years of the 1930s were redirected toward military defense. Although the CCC, in particular, attempted to suppress its connections with relief and adopt a new role as a reservoir for defense needs in the early 1940s, public attitudes and perceptions about the Corps' original role remained fixed. The attempt to broaden the CCC's function came far too late. Reduction in the number of CCC enrollees and camps began in the late 1930s. Loath to abandon his pet project, President Roosevelt fought for its survival. But in mid 1942 after several weeks of Congressional debate, the House of Representatives voted to provide eight million dollars for the liquidation of the CCC (Salmond 1967, 201, 216-17). Likewise, PWA and WPA programs withered and died as more and more of their funding was diverted toward military expenditures. By 1942, four years after the establishment of Olympic National Park, money funneled to the Park through federal relief programs had dwindled drastically. By then, the Park itself was very much in volved in the war effort.
For many, the brief but busy period between 1933 and 1942not quite a decadecontained aspects of human dignity and ambition as well as Park activity and development, that seem almost unattainable. Perhaps more than any other single New Deal program, the CCC restored a sense of working dignity to its enrollees while simultaneously bestowing care and craftsmanship on the areas in which it worked. Throughout America, CCC workers created campgrounds, roadways and other recreation and Park support facilities that seem to defy modern imitation. It was for forests and parks a time when we had enough to do it right. Olympic National Forest and the post-1938 Olympic National Park clearly bear the almost ubiquitous marks of the CCC and the later PWA and WPA. The Elwha and Altaire community kitchens and Soleduck Falls shelter are perhaps the most obvious public facilities, but other campgrounds, ranger stations and trails benefited as well.
The generator house and stonework at Soleduck Ranger Station, as well as work accomplished on the Graves Creek Ranger Station, are partly attributable to the energy of CCC work crews. Campgrounds still in use today, such as Altaire, Elwha, Graves Creek, July Creek, and the La Poel picnic area, benefited greatly from improvement or maintenance work accomplished by the CCC. Even the Park headquarters complex owes its existence and its style to the design guidelines and monetary support of the New Deal programs. Finally, the configuration of the Park would be significantly different today had not sums of money from the PWA been authorized for the purchase of land in the Park's Queets Corridor and Coastal Strip.
Because of the nature of the work accomplished by these public works programs, and particularly the CCC, much has been altered or undone or cannot be discerned as CCC, WPA or PWA work. Only the octagonal concrete slab of the rustic La Poel community kitchen remains today. The broken, weathered remains of telephone lines strung across the mountains and valleys of the Olympics are now the only evidence of the public works enrollees' contribution to 1930s fire prevention and suppression efforts in the Park. Roads that traversed rugged terrain and entered far into the interior of the Park, such as the Deer Park and Whiskey Bend Roads, and the Bunch Creek Bridge, have been improved several times in the last fifty years, although their very existence remains as testimony to the tireless efforts of public works programs enrollees. Foot bridges and trails throughout the Park built principally by the CCC have, in many cases, either deteriorated or have been altered in the face of a harsh climate and changing Park Service backcountry management policies.
Beyond the built environment created by the CCC, WPA and PWA or the natural environment benefited by its work, there lies a second level of human significance. For many of the New Deal public works enrollees who completed scores of projects throughout the Park, this was local work, work in which they took local pride and on which local newspapers frequently commented. Given a Great Depression in which the Peninsula fared even worse than many other parts of the nation, the CCC, WPA and PWA generated not only cash income for the moment but a sense of pride in an area that needed it badly. Not surprisingly, the special significance of the nationwide public assistance era in Olympic is the long-lasting local identification with those remaining structures. For Olympic National Park, a recognition of the immediate dependence of the new Park on these New Deal programs for virtually all its early development and maintenance, along with the success of these initial efforts, allows that same sense of local pride to be shared by current employees as well.
Last Updated: 01-Oct-2009