Civilian Conservation Corps
If you are near Painted Desert Inn, listen closely. You may still hear the ringing of hammers and the rasping of saws, echoes of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) working on the Inn from 1935-40.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt's intention in creating the CCC in 1933 was to provide employment for young men during the Great Depression. Young men were sent to camps all across the nation, given a place to sleep, eat, and work. Their work not only supported their families, but left a legacy for the entire nation. Painted Desert Inn was one of numerous projects at Petrified Forest National Park.
After the National Park Service bought the Inn from Herbert Lore in 1936, architect Lyle Bennett produced designs for a building that complimented the rolling red hills of the Painted Desert. The excessive cost of outside contractors led to the use of CCC labor for construction of the building. The enrollees received training in carpentry, electrical work, masonry, and stone quarrying.
Through the cold of winter and the heat of summer, the boys put in electric wires, plumbing, and a heating system. Sleeping rooms, a new entryway, restrooms, a dining room, and a shaded porch were built as additions to the original structure. Construction took 3-years, employing hundreds of young men in the process.
From the hard labor of stuccoing the exterior to the delicate artwork creating panels of stained glass and hammered-tin chandeliers, Painted Desert Inn remains a monument to the work of the CCC. Roosevelt's original intention was to give jobs to young men. The skills the men left with benefited the nation.
Did You Know?
Standing on the edge of a vast badlands landscape, a Spanish explorer is rumored to have named the area "El Desierto Pintado" (The Painted Desert) because the hills looked like they were painted with the colors of the sunset.