The Forest Service and The Civilian Conservation Corps: 1933-42

Chapter 6:
Region 4—The Intermountain Region

During the CCC period, Region 4 administered 23 national forests in Nevada, Utah, southern Idaho, and a small portion of western Wyoming. Three forests had lands shared by two States: Cache National Forest in Idaho and Utah, and Dixie and Nevada National Forests in Nevada and Utah. Eleven additional forests in southern Idaho, south of the Salmon River, were: the Boise, Caribou, Challis, Idaho, Lemhi, Minidoka, Payette, Salmon, Sawtooth, Targhee, and Weiser. In Nevada, forests were: the Humboldt and Toiyabe. Utah contained seven forests in Region 4: the Ashley, Fishlake, LaSal, Manti, Powell, Uinta, and Wasatch. The Wyoming National Forest in western Wyoming was also administered by Region 4. [1]

Some 15 percent of the country's national forests lay in Region 4, and 5 percent of its total forested area. Ninety-six percent of the region's forested land was federally owned. [2]

Enrollment and Camp History

Acting Adjutant General James F. McKinley approved 74 camps for the first ECW enrollment period in the summer of 1933. Fifty of these camps were in Idaho, 4 in Nevada, and 20 in Utah. [3] Of those approved, only 59 began operation. These were distributed among the forests as follows: [4]







During the second period, winter 1933-34, only 10 camps remained in operation, because of the severe climate. In the summer of 1934, only 20 camps were operating, but by May 1935 the total had risen to 34. Nearly three-fourths of all Region 4 camps were in Idaho forests. [5]

Camps in Region 4 belonged within Army Corps Area 9. Assistant Regional Forester Chester B. Morse was appointed by CCC Director Robert Fechner as the liaison officer for the entire ninth corps area, based in San Francisco. Clarence N. Woods became the new assistant to Regional Forester Richard H. Rutledge in Ogden, UT. [6] In an unusual example of Federal cooperation with State authorities, Forester Rutledge accepted the responsibility for supervising Utah's five State camps in addition to the national forest camps. [7]

Army supervision was administered through three districts: Fort Douglas (Utah), Pocatello (Idaho), and Boise (Idaho). State quotas for Region 4's enrollment were projected as: Idaho—9,600 men (including Region 1); Nevada—550 men; and Utah—3,200 men. [8] By 1937, estimates showed Region 4 carrying 12 percent of the CCC work load on all United States national forests, and 8 percent of all CCC forestry-related work. [9]

Utah's response to the CCC enrollment was overwhelmingly strong, and probably representative of the region. Utah's relief director and CCC recruiting agent was Robert H. Hinckley.

By May 4, Salt Lake City and county were ready to receive the first formal applications in Utah. . . . With 20 clerks, Gus P. Backman, head of the Salt Lake City relief office, signed up 4,000 applicants for the 140 spots. . . . [10]

In 1934, enrollment quotas in each of the region's States except Wyoming were greatly increased because of drought conditions. Along with 18 other Western States, most of Region 4 was allocated extra moneys and CCC labor to engage in relief work activities to intensify conservation measures already under way. Utah's quota for the third enrollment period was enlarged by more than 700 men. [11]

Enrollees in Region 4 represented a large geographical area. In addition to the State-enrolled men, enrollees from Oregon, Washington, and Montana were used in Idaho, and all of the eastern corps areas supplied men to the region. [12] For example, initial companies in the Pocatello District were sent from the second and third corps areas, many of them organized at Fort George Meade in Maryland. It is reported that in Utah "nearly as many enrollees from outside the State . . . served . . . as there were natives." [13]

In April 1937, John N. Kinney, acting regional forester, evaluated enrollee effectiveness on the job to be about 53 percent of handpicked labor. His evaluation was based on observations in 26 CCC camps. As Kinney pointed out, "many differences exist in type of work and in enrollees, both individually and collectively." [14]

Side Camps

In July 1933, Acting Regional Forester Woods reported to the Chief Forester in Washington, DC, on the use of side camps in Region 4. For Woods, there was no question whether or not the national forest camps should be allowed to operate side camps outside established base camps. Before any official policy had been established, his general understanding was that side camps would be used or base camps would be moved. On this assumption, the region had already purchased materials such as lumber and telephone wire to be used in making improvements in remote areas. Driving back and forth between remote sites and main camps was impractical. John N. Kinney, at that time supervisor on the Salmon National Forest in Idaho, reported:

For conditions as they exist on the Salmon National Forest, with very rough country and work scattered, the establishment of side camps is very necessary. The enrolled men have been worked as close to camp as possible during the initial period and the work is therefore getting farther away from base camp every day; thus requiring more auto mileage and less effective time in fast increasing proportions. [15]

Woods suggested that side camps (in inaccessible areas) would be particularly useful for future fire control programs. Woods added that small camps had been used by the Forest Service in the region for 25 years as a means of working inaccessible areas, and no problems had arisen. [16]

Work Projects

Firefighting and forest protection were major accomplishments in Region 4. In 1940, Regional Forester Rutledge commended the CCC enrollees for their firefighting skills. Seven years of special training and experience in an area of high fire danger had been effective in producing reliable firefighters. Rutledge reported that "super squads" had developed. These were "25-man crews of enrollees from each company especially selected for their physique, endurance, spirit, and woodsmanship." [17] Super squads were on constant fire call and were the first ones sent to the front of any fire line. It was pointed out their harnessed zealousness would have its benefits in any national defense need. [18] The work was not without risk. Five men from Camp Paradise, F-5-N, in Nevada, lost their lives on the Orovada fire in the Humboldt National Forest on July 28, 1939. [19]

In addition to fire suppression, CCC enrollees in Region 4 contributed to timber conservation by working against forest diseases and insects. White pine blister rust was treated in Idaho partly by cutting and burning affected trees or branches and partly by removing currant and gooseberry underbrush, which spread the fungus. Programs to control the pine beetle were carried on in Idaho and Utah. [20]

Emergency work was required to fight infestations of "Mormon crickets" in Idaho and Utah. [21] The destructive root- and plant-eating crickets were particularly bad at the end of 1935, and CCC crews were called upon to use numerous strategies in trying to eradicate the pests. Poison, burning, and the use of turkeys were methods used in the partially successful program. [22]

Rodents were another range problem for forestry crews. Gophers, squirrels, mice, kangaroo rats, and prairie dogs were among the small animals controlled with poison bait. These animals dug dangerous underground tunnels and ate tree seedlings and important range grasses before they had a chance to reseed. Rodents were also associated with health problems such as the bubonic plague and tularemia. [23]

Civilian Conservation Corps crews worked a great deal on flood and erosion control projects, too. On December 28, 1933, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 6541, which withdrew certain public lands in Nevada "from settlement, location, sale, or entry, for purposes of flood and erosion control in connection with cooperative CCC work." [24] Numerous dams, dikes, and stream improvements were constructed for these purposes throughout the region. Camp F-16-U on Utah's Dixie Forest took over Cedar City's Navajo Lake dike project, enlarging and finishing it, as well as constructing a recreational park with a 1,000-seat amphitheater and baseball diamond. [25]

Davis County, UT, exemplifies how flood and erosion control projects benefited forest lands and adjacent agricultural areas in that State. A CCC camp was set up in 1933 on the Wasatch Forest to provide labor for the already established project. Recruited by the Davis County flood committee, the camp was based at Woods Cross and used side camps wherever work was necessary. Work by the Woods Cross Camp included building a road to the head of Parrish Creek, topographic mapping, and the initiation of a contour trenching program. "CCC crews under the direction of a foreman, staked trench location, and trenches were roughed out by a CCC worker on a small 'cletrack' crawler-type tractor." Check dams were built into the trenches. [26] Baldrdge provides details of check dams and larger impounding diversion dams and their construction in Utah (see note 4).

Erosion control was also carried out on the Uinta National Forest in Utah. In 1933, a project was undertaken in the Little Rock and Slate Canyons. Terracing, reseeding, and grazing reductions were used to prevent further erosion and flooding on the canyon's steep slopes. [27]

Structural improvements in Region 4 included large numbers of ranger stations and residences, lookouts, guard houses, and service buildings designed for Forest Service use. Camp F-101 in the Cache National Forest was responsible for laying the pipeline for the City of Pocatello's water supply (fig. 10).

Figure 10—CCC enrollees laying 8-inch pipeline for Pocatello, ID, city water supply. (National Archives 95-G-280 106)

An example of a road constructed by the CCC camp in Alpine, WY, is found along the Snake River in Idaho's Targhee National Forest. This major project connected the Roosevelt Highway to the recreationally valuable area around Jackson Hole, WY. Another highway construction project was a 40-mile stretch of 16-foot-wide road that follows the Salmon River, in the Salmon National Forest. [28] Smaller road projects or truck trail construction occurred on all of the forests. Prior to the CCC, access to much of the region was limited to mining roads or to travel by foot and horseback.

Another important road building project was completed in October 1933 by the Blue Springs Camp, F-18, in the Powell National Forest. This project involved building a road to the isolated town of Boulder, UT, from the towns of Grover and Escalante.

The long ridge west of Boulder known as Hell's Backbone was a formidable obstacle. . . . The Backbone was broken by a crevasse which had to be bridged. Although 22 other bridges were built over the 38-mile route, the Hell's Backbone stands out as one of the major accomplishments of the first enrollment period . . . 109 feet long, only 14 feet wide, and with a . . . drop of 1,500 feet on either side, the bridge was completed in 5-1/2 weeks without serious accident. [29]

Recreational improvements were widespread in the region. In the Cache National Forest, campgrounds were built at Logan Canyon, Blacksmith Fork, and the head of the Ogden River on Mount Christo in Utah. In the same forest in Idaho, public camps were improved on Mink Creek, Paris Springs, Cub River, and Summit Creek. In the Salmon National Forest, public camps were built at Twin Creeks and Cougar Point. The Howard Spring fountain in the Targhee Forest was constructed by the Osborne Springs CCC camp in 1935 for tourists crossing Targhee Pass. [30] In Nevada, the CCC built the Kyle Canyon Campground close to Las Vegas in the Charleston Mountains. This facility was considered to be the largest developed in Nevada's forests and the most widely used. [31] The largest campground built in the Region is said to be in the Fishlake Forest. Both WPA and CCC crews worked on that 1,500-person-capacity recreation area. [32]

A major structural contribution of the CCC on the Idaho National Forest, now part of Region 1's Nezperce Forest, was the Manning Bridge. The 240-foot-long timber suspension bridge was built in 1938 by Company 1896, then located on French Creek. The bridge, which spans the Crevasse Canyon on the Salmon River, was an engineering feat. It marked the culmination of the overall project of building a road along the Salmon River east of Riggins, ID. The name of the bridge was changed from the "Crevasse" Bridge to the "Manning" Bridge to honor a CCC enrollee who died there. [33] According to Rebecca Herbst, a National Park Service historian who inventoried the bridge in September 1982, "the bridge has been little altered over the years except for the addition of a steel deck and guardrailing," although it is listed for replacement due to its deteriorating condition and difficult approach for traffic. [34]

The Sawtooth National Forest reports that two sites stand out today as having structural significance from the CCC period. The old 1-1/2-story Stanley Ranger Station, located between Upper and Lower Stanley, was built in 1933 (fig. 11). Architecturally, it is representative of the log structures built by the CCC, and it is currently being preserved by the Sawtooth Interpretive Association for use as a museum. [35]

Figure 11—Stanley Ranger Station, Sawtooth National Forest, ID.

The second CCC site noted on the Sawtooth is the Sunbeam Hot Springs stone bathhouse, which can be found three-fourths of a mile upriver from the confluence of the Yankee Fork and Salmon River (fig. 12). Its actual date of completion is undetermined. The building is currently closed to public use. [36]

Figure 12—Bathhouse, Sunbeam Hotsprings, Sawtooth National Forest, ID.

The Snake River Ranger Station and Administrative Site in the Targhee National Forest, formerly part of the Caribou National Forest, was constructed largely by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933-34. Seven of its eight buildings were built by enrollees; the eighth structure, a dwelling, was reconstructed with CCC labor. According to Forest Archaeologist James MacDonald, the Snake River site is especially significant because, unlike other CCC-built administration compounds on the Targhee, it remains relatively intact. Because of a shift in district headquarters, the ranger station was never expanded, and any changes made to it did not damage the site's original integrity. [37]

MacDonald indicates the dwelling and office buildings at the Snake River Ranger Station are representative of the types of structures built by the Forest Service in Region 4 between 1930 and 1950.

An important characteristic of the station is that prior to the conversion of the original office into a bunkhouse, the residential facilities consisted of a single-family dwelling and a one-bedroom office. Until the 1940's many ranger districts were managed by a ranger and assistant (often seasonal), and the Snake River Ranger Station reflects this administrative structure. [38]

Camp Life and Community Relations

According to Kenneth Baldridge's research, CCC camps in Utah were unique in their lack of religious diversity. Most Utah boys belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Baldridge indicates that Mormon predominance was a problem for young men from other parts of the country who had other religious affiliations. However, many non-Mormon enrollees wound up marrying local Mormon women and converting. [39]

In most parts of the State, the community—which in most cases meant the Mormon Church as well—welcomed the enrollees and invited them to their homes and church gatherings. . . . (The Church) sponsored many dances through its Mutual Improvement Association. After an initial period of adjustment, the boys were generally welcome at these affairs. [40]

Communities tended to have mixed reactions to the influx of CCC boys. Enrollees needed to work diligently on displaying an image of good behavior. As one woman recalled, "at first they were welcomed like an epidemic of smallpox." But with time, fears of unacceptable or unruly behavior were shown to be largely unwarranted. The program increasingly gained local support as the CCC demonstrated its usefulness to the communities and forests. [41]

At least one major mutiny occurred among the CCC camps in Region 4. In 1934, Camp Smith Creek F-126 in Porthill, ID, was disrupted when 44 of 75 enrollees refused to fight on the Pack River Fire. Baldridge reports that poor conditions, such as inadequate food and relief time, and bad morale led to the mutiny. Twenty-nine of the 44 dishonorable discharges were eventually revoked, giving the men a chance to re-enroll. [42]

Reference Notes

1. CCC camp directories, 1933-42. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 35-13, 888, 889. See discussion of Region 2 for information on Wyoming camps and projects.

2. Per cent distribution of population, forest areas, and work load by regions, CCC (table). 1937. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 95-144, 21.

3. James F. McKinley. Letter to commanding generals in VII, VIII, and IX Corps Areas concerning approval of work projects on national forests in the VII, VIII, and IX Corps Areas. April 26, 1933: p. 7. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 35-6, 907, vol. 1, no. 58.

4. According to Kenneth Baldridge, one of the camps assigned to Humboldt National Forest was actually located at the Desert Range Experiment Station 40 miles west of Milford, UT. Camp F-15, or Camp Cahill, was uniquely supervised from Region 4's main office in Ogden and was responsible for building fences and assisting in grazing and stock management research at the station. For a thorough history of CCC camps in Utah, see Kenneth Baldridge, "Nine years of achievement: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Utah," (Ph.D. dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1971).

5. CCC camp directories, 1933-42.

6. Baldridge, "Nine years of achievement," pp. 19-21.

7. Baldridge, pp. 35-36.

8. ECW relation of work in prospect to state enrollment quotas (map). April 22, 1933. Located at: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Hyde Park, NY; Official File 268, 1.

9. See reference note 2.

10. Baldridge, pp. 23-24.

11. Baldridge, p. 101.

12. "Camps with negro enrollees as of February 28, 1935." Located at: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Hyde Park, NY; Official File 268, 2.

13. Baldridge, p. 139.

14. John N. Kinney. Letter to Chief Forester, USDA Forest Service, Washington, DC. April 12, 1937: p. 1. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 95-144, 21.

15. C.N. Woods. Letter to Chief Forester, USDA Forest Service, Washington, DC. July 30, 1933: pp. 1-2. Also: John N. Kinney. Report to C.N. Woods. July 26, 1933: p. 1. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 95-144, 221.

16. Ibid.

17. R.H. Rutledge. Memorandum for the press from the Federal Security Agency, CCC, Washington, DC. October 26, 1944: pp. 2-3. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 95-144, 5.

18. Ibid.

19. List compiled by Don Hobart, Sacramento, CA, with additions by Bill Sharp. p. 3. Supplied to the authors by Bill Sharp, Bozeman, MT.

20. "CCC check forest insects and diseases." April 19, 1935: p. 1. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 95-144, 9. See section on Region 1 for more information on these projects.

21. "CCC in emergencies." p. 2. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 35-6, 908, item 788.

22. Baldridge, "Nine years of achievement," p. 178.

23. Baldridge, pp. 179-180.

24. Executive Order No. 6541. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 35-6, vol. 6, no. 776.

25. Baldridge, "Nine years of achievement," p. 47, 51.

26. A. Russell Croft, History of development of the Davis County experimental watershed (Ogden, UT: U.S. Forest Service, Intermountain Region; 1981) pp. 12-13.

27. Gary M. Coleman. Letter to Regional Forester. From Coleman, Chief, Branch of Recreation and Lands, Uinta National Forest. October 19, 1982: p. 1. Located at: Forest Supervisor's Office, Uinta National Forest, Provo, UT.

28. See reference note 13, pp. 9, 15.

29. Baldridge, "Nine years of achievement," p. 53.

30. See reference note 13, pp. 8, 10, 15.

31. R.H. Rutledge, "CCC in Nevada, CCC in Utah, CCC in southern Idaho." pp. 1-3. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 95-144, 9.

32. Baldridge, "Nine years of achievement," p. 187.

33. Ralph A. Finn. Letter to the Regional Forester. October 19, 1982: p. 1. Also: Lee Bennett, Brief History of the Manning Bridge. McCall, ID: Payette National Forest; p. 1. Also: Rebecca Herbst, National Park Service inventory form. McCall, ID: Payette National Forest; September 1982. Located at: Forest Supervisor's Office, Payette National Forest, McCall, ID.

34. Herbst, p. 2.

35. Bert Webster. Letter to the Regional Forester. October 21, 1982: pp. 1-2. Located at: Forest Supervisor's Office, Sawtooth National Forest, Twin Falls, ID.

36. Ibid.

37. James MacDonald, National Register nomination form for the Snake River administration sites, Targhee National Forest, St. Anthony, ID. January 7, 1983. Further information is available in James MacDonald, Cultural resource evaluation: Targhee National Forest administrative sites of the Civilian Conservation Corps era (St. Anthony, ID: Targhee National Forest; 1983.

38. Ibid.

39. Baldridge, "Nine years of achievement," pp. 291, 295.

40. Baldridge, p. 320.

41. Baldridge, pp. 322-324, 329.

42. Baldridge, pp. 258-260.

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 07-Jan-2008