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

Chapter 8:
Region 6—The North Pacific Region

Twenty national forests in the States of Oregon and Washington made up Region 6 (now called the Pacific Northwest Region) during the CCC years of operation. In Washington, these forests were the Chelan, Columbia, Colville, Mt. Baker, Olympic, Snoqualmie, and Wenatchee. The part of Kaniksu National Forest in eastern Washington was administered by Region 1. The Umatilla Forest had land in Washington and Oregon. Additional national forests in Oregon were the Deschutes, Fremont, Maleheur, Mt. Hood, Ochoco, Rogue River, Siskiyou, Siuslaw, Umpqua, Wallowa, Whitman, and Willamette. [1] Region 6 accounted for approximately 8 percent of the United States' total forest area and about 16 percent of its national forests. Fifty-one percent of the region's forested land was federally owned. [2]

Enrollment and Camp History

Acting Adjutant General James F. McKinley's enrollee quota for Region 6 was 26,355 men. Some 15,400 of these enrollees were to be placed in Oregon and 10,950 in Washington. [3] It was also determined that enrollees from outside the region would be needed to fulfill proposed work projects on Federal lands. According to 1937 estimates, Region 6 had 10 percent of the CCC work force in all forestry camps and 11 percent of the national forest work force. [4]

McKinley initially approved 107 national forest camps to handle enrolled men in the first period; 65 camps were slated to open in Oregon and 42 in Washington. Forests assigned the greatest number of camps were Mount Hood and Willamette, with 10 camps each, and Columbia, with 9 camps. [5] During the first enrollment period 84 camps actually started work. Of these, 40 camps operated in the winter of 1933-34 and 44 the following summer. [6] Winter camps were at lower elevations and in the coastal forests where work could be continued more easily. [7]

Toward the end of the CCC program, Region 6 had serious problems with declining camp numbers. This was largely a result of decreased enrollment in the eastern corps areas and increased numbers of camps being moved into national defense work on military reservations. The sharp cutback was especially hard on Region 6, which had become dependent upon CCC firefighting crews in a dry decade of many fires. In June 1941, only 31 camps were still operating in Oregon and Washington. [8]

All camps in Region 6 were supervised by the Army IX Corps Area, headquartered at the Presidio in San Francisco. The IX Corps Area was the largest corps area in geographical size and number of camps. During the first period it contained 459 CCC camps. [9] Chester B. Morse, previously assistant forester in Region 4, was appointed the Forest Service liaison officer for the entire corps area. [10]

Army centers within the region were Fort Stevens in Oregon and Forts Lewis, Worden, George Wright, and Lawton in Washington. Vancouver Barracks in Washington also served as a conditioning and enrollee distribution center. [11] These centers were the first stopping places for the locally enrolled men as well as for enrollees arriving by train from eastern corps areas as far away as Florida, Louisiana, North and South Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Missouri. [12]

First Camps

One of the first CCC camps in Region 6 opened in 1933 at Seattle Bar in the Rogue River National Forest. Camp F-41, known as Camp Applegate, was occupied until 1937 by Oregon enrollees, and then replaced by a crew from the V Corps Area. The latter crew served there until 1941. [13]

With the Seiad Valley Camp, F-176, and other CCC crews in the same vicinity, Camp Applegate worked on numerous construction projects. Thompson Ridge Road, the Little Applegate Road, Middle Fork Road, and the Beaver Creek-Mount Ashland Loop Road were among the notable road-building projects. Recreational improvements constructed near Camp Applegate included the Hutton, Cook-and-Green, Beaver-Sulpher, and McKee Bridge Campgrounds. Other accomplishments in the areas were the Star Gulch Ranger Station compound, Wrangle Gap Community Kitchen, and a small shelter at the Trail Camp Ski Area. [14]

Another early camp in Region 6 was located at Agness, OR, in the Siskiyou National Forest. This camp began work in May 1933, under the command of Captain Rockwell from Fort Lewis, WA. The Agness Camp constructed new guard stations at Agness and Store Gulch and part of a road from Agness to Powers. The remainder of the road was constructed by a CCC camp at China Flats. [15]

Side Camps

At the end of July 1933, Regional Forester C.J. Buck reported that 34 CCC camps in Oregon and Washington were successfully utilizing side camps to meet work objectives. There were 104 camps, ranging from 1 to 50 men each and totaling 1,423 men. [16] Work projects included construction and maintenance of truck trails, hiking trails, and telephone lines; construction of lookout towers and houses; work on boundary and timber surveys; and construction of fire lines. No problems were found with either the work's quality or obtaining men to do the work. In fact, Buck's inspectors all reported that more work was getting accomplished, with better efficiency, than when no side camps were used. Any additional costs in operating the side camps were said to be negated by reductions in travel time and increased work time. [17]

Forester Buck expressed some dissatisfaction in his report, saying that the lack of a CCC policy on side camp use had reduced the work capabilities of all the camps in the region:

When the ECW program started, it was anticipated that the work could be carried on by means of detached crews from the CCC camps. But the limitations placed on side camps by low ration allowance and lack of tentage have made it impossible to establish crews in the more remote regions as well as in all the more accessible locations. . . . Essential truck trail construction projects have had to be eliminated until wider authority is received regarding the use of side camps. [18]

Buck estimated that 50 percent of the work projects planned for the national forest camps needed to be done through the side camp system. He suggested that with side camps detached from 91 base camps and averaging 85 men per camp, future work plans could be carried out in full. [19]

Work Projects

Statistics show that CCC work in the Pacific Northwest Region focused on forest fire protection, recreation, transportation improvements, and structural improvements. [20] In 1936, Regional Forester Buck indicated a general breakdown of new construction as follows:

Type of work Oregon Washington

Forest road construction54 percent22 percent
Fire hazard reduction (mainly snag falling)11 percent22 percent
Clearing firebreaks4 percent8 percent
Firefighting4 percent3 percent
Various other improvements (insect control, planting, telephone line construction)27 percent45 percent

Recreation improvements were not considered in these estimates. [21]

Civilian Conservation Corps contributions to forest fire protection stand out statistically as well as in most reports on the organization's activities. In 1937, Acting Regional Forester A.H. Hodgson calculated timber savings on Region 6's national forests at more than half a million dollars. [22] From 1933 to 1936 was a period of severe forest fires. CCC crews were called on to fight several major blazes including the 1933 Tillamook or Wilson River Fire, the 1934 Furham Creek Fire, the 1935 McKenzie Bridge Fire, and the 1936 Bandon Fire. Despite the large number of fires, losses in timber on national forest acres were kept lower than in earlier years. [23] Furthermore, with an improved protection system, new timber could finally be grown in logged-off areas that had suffered previously from uncontrolled fires. [24]

To provide greater accessibility to potential fire areas, the CCC built networks of truck trails or fire roads. These roads were viewed by recreationists as new sources for adventure. Motorists and campers moved into areas previously unreachable or discovered alternative shortcuts to favored recreation spots. As Forester Buck quipped, "Where there are roads, you'll find the public." [25] One such Oregon road connected Olallie Lake with the Breitenbush mineral springs; another was the timberline loop on Mount Hood. In Washington, the CCC built a road across the Cascade Divide between the Cowlitz watershed near Randle and the Yakima Valley. [26]

The CCC assisted recreationists further by constructing hundreds of picnic and camping facilities. The expanded Eagle Creek campground on Mount Hood was a CCC project. [27] Community kitchens for the campgrounds were built in many forests such as Mount Hood, Olympic, Wenatchee, Mount Baker, Snoqualmie, Deschutes, Umatilla, and Rogue River. Trails and shelters, for both hiking and skiing, were also built. Trail shelters were constructed in the Olympic Forest and on Mount Hood along the Timberline Trail. [28] Numerous trail shelters in the Rogue River Forest were built close to the Skyline Trail in the Cascade Mountains. [29] A ski shelter was built in the Ashland Ranger District in the Rogue River Forest, and an ocean view recreation shelter was built in 1933 on Cape Perpetua in the Siuslaw National Forest. [30]

The CCC was responsible for building numerous other structures in Region 6. It is estimated that between 1,000 and 1,200, or about one-third, of the region's structures remain intact. The 260-foot Mott Bridge on the Umpqua Forest and the Silver Springs log footbridge on the Snoqualmie Forest (fig. 13) were CCC projects.

Figure 13—CCC enrollees building log bridge at Dailies Camp, Snoqualmie National Forest, WA, in 1936. (National Archives 35-G-340106)

Many ranger station compounds, such as Darrington in Mount Baker National Forest, Lamonta in Ochoco, Mount Adams in Gifford Pinchot, and Paisley in Fremont, and Forest Service work centers, such as Randle in Columbia, Snider in Olympic, Concully in Chelan, and Clackamas in Mount Hood were also built. [31] Guard station cabins were built at Hamaker Meadows, Huckleberry Mountain, Lodgepole, and Imnaha; and lookouts on Mount Stella, Abbott Butte, Rustler Peak, Blue Rock, and Bessie Rock in the Rogue River National Forest. [32] A wide range of miscellaneous structures were erected out of a need for specific improvements on the forests.

At least two sites remain to show where CCC camps were located. These are the Lost Lake CCC Camp in the Chelan, now Okanogan, Forest, and the Growden CCC Camp in the Colville National Forest. The Growden site includes a dam and reservoir constructed by that camp. [33] In the Prospect Ranger District of the Rogue River Forest, a mess hall is still being used at the Union Creek Young Adult Conservation Corps compound, but it has not yet been determined if the structure is left from a CCC camp or a later blister rust camp. [34]

Writing about Civilian Conservation Corps structures in Region 6, Elizabeth Gail Throop, Region 6 recreation staff, points to the high quality of workmanship exhibited in the planning, design, and execution of many CCC structures. Among the outstanding examples that she found in her inventory of the region were the Glacier Ranger Station and the Monte Cristo Ranger Station in what is now the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and the Bly Ranger Station in the Fremont National Forest. Throop notes:

The latter is a compound possessing remarkable integrity of design and materials, interior as well as exterior. It is the only Forest Service facility in Region Six to have stone as its primary exterior wall material, and retains strong ensemble character. [35]

As in other Forest Service regions, the CCC in Region 6 organized crews to fight forest pests threatening timber. Western pine beetles of several varieties were fought in eastern Washington and Oregon by disposing of infected trees. By 1938, the beetle infestation was reportedly declining; prior to that time it had been determined that more timber was being destroyed annually by beetles than by forest fires. [36] Civilian Conservation Corps crews also worked to eradicate white pine blister rust in eastern Washington and Oregon, and blister rust on sugar pines in southern Oregon. [37]

A regionally unique CCC activity was its association, between 1935 and 1940, with the start of the commercial Christmas tree industry in the Pacific Northwest. The Rogue River National Forest in southern Oregon reports that the local response to the devastation of the timber business during the Depression included using CCC crews to help harvest fir trees for Christmas sales. The Christmas tree business developed into a tremendous source of income and employment, particularly in the region's privately owned forests. [38]

Camp Education and Recreation Programs

In November 1933, Regional Forester Buck wrote a letter to the Chief Forester in Washington, DC, briefly describing educational activities in Region 6 CCC camps. Buck thereby entered into the long-lived debate on the role of education in the camps. According to Buck, the role of the Forest Service in the educational program needed clarification. Ideas for an expanded program under Army supervision were being formulated and in Buck's estimation, the Forest Service was being left out of the planning. He described Region 6 as having taken the initiative to assist local Army commanders. A program had been planned for winter camps that included teaching enrollees forestry-related subjects. Buck feared educational advisors would be chosen whose backgrounds in forestry would not be adequate for the job. [39]

Acting Chief Forester C.M. Granger responded by saying that the intent of the new education program was not to deprive enrollees from learning more about forestry, but to relieve present camp personnel from having too much responsibility. Granger indicated Forest Service personnel would still be welcome to handle classes dealing with forest conservation or other relevant topics. [40]

Guy Moore, an educational advisor for Camp Steamboat in the Umpqua National Forest, 1935-40, discovered the enrollees there were more interested in auto mechanics and leather work than forestry. He described a few men as illiterate and uninterested in any education; others preferred working with their hands. Moore mentioned one man who did so well in auto mechanics that he eventually settled in Roseburg to work at a service station. [41] A 1936 letter from V.V. Harphram, the Umpqua forest supervisor, to Regional Forester Buck further detailed how enrollees from several camps on the Umpqua had moved smoothly from the corps into outside jobs. He said the education and vocational training they received in the CCC accounted for many of their new jobs. [42]

In addition to teaching classes, Guy Moore claimed the educational advisor was often responsible for coordinating recreational activities. The activities ranged from trips to the ocean to camp athletics. [43] Some of the other camps in the region put together elaborate shows and toured the camps in their districts, putting on performances. The Medford District, for instance, organized a traveling minstrel show. The Eugene District, with help from the University of Oregon Drama Department, formed a movable theater production. The Vancouver District reported having built a "well-equipped rest camp" for its men on leave. [44]

Reference Notes

1. CCC camp directories, 1933-42. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 35-13, 888, 889.

2. Percent 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. 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.

4. See reference note 2.

5. 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.

6. CCC camp directories—first and second periods, 1933-34. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 35-13, 888.

7. Elizabeth Gail Throop, "Utterly visionary and chimerical: A federal response to the depression, an examination of Civilian Conservation Corps construction on National Forest System lands in the Pacific Northwest" (Thesis, Portland State University; 1979) p. 22.

8. James J. McEntee, Annual report of the director of the CCC. (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1941) p. 44. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC: Record Group 35-3, 899.

9. Six twenty six. February 1935; 19(2): p. 8. Supplied to the authors by Gerald Williams, Umpqua National Forest, Roseburg, OR.

10. Six twenty six. 1933; 17(4): p. 27. Supplied to the authors by Gerald Williams, Umpqua National Forest, Roseburg, OR. Also: Kenneth Baldridge, "Nine years of achievement: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Utah" (Ph.D. dissertation, Brigham Young University; 1971).

ll. John Guthrie and C.H. Tracy. Initial enrollment areas and numbers (map). 1943. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 35-6, 908, no. 787.

12. Guy Moore. Interviewed by Star Eatherington, Roseburg, OR, for the Douglas County Museum oral history program. July 1978: p. 2. Located at: Douglas County Museum, Roseburg, OR.

13. Jeffrey M. LaLande, Prehistory and history of the Rogue River National Forest: A cultural resource overview (Medford, OR: Rogue River National Forest; 1980) p. 40.

14. Ibid., pp. 95-96.

15. Stephen Dow Beckham, An inventory and evaluation of the historical significance of the Civilian Conservation Corps buildings on the Siskiyou National Forest (Grants Pass, OR: Siskiyou National Forest) pp. 4-5.

16. Ibid., p. 5.

17. C.J. Buck, Report on 91 side camps in Region 6, National Forest and Oregon and California Wagon Road grant lands, July 29, 1933: pp. 1-2. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 95-144, 221.

18. Ibid., p. 4.

19. Ibid., pp. 2-3.

20. USDA Forest Service. Statistical tables, April 5, 1933—July 31, 1942. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 35-112.

21. C.J. Buck. Letter to Guy D. McKinney, assistant to the director, ECW, concerning CCC forestry programs in Region 6. February 20, 1936: pp. 1-5. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 95-144, 9. [The total of 113% for Oregon in one table is not an editorial error, but rather an error by C.J. Buck.].

22. A.H. Hodgson. Letter to Chief Forester, USDA Forest Service, Washington, DC. April 16, 1937: p. 2. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 95-144, 21.

23. "CCC hands jolt to fire demon," Region 6—North Pacific Region. Forest News. November 16, 1935: p. 1. Located at: National Archives and Record Service; Record Group 95-144, 9. Also: Anonymous, Camp history, p. 2. Located at: Oregon Historical Society, Portland, OR; CCC File.

24. Buck, letter to Guy D. McKinney, p. 3.

25. Lawrence Barber, "Tying together Oregon's mountains," The Oregon Motorist. July 1934: p. 7. Supplied to the authors by Gerald Williams, Umpqua National Forest, Roseburg, OR.

26. Ibid.

27. Albert Wiesendanger. Letter to Captain P.R. Chaplin, Cascade Locks CCC camp, Cascade Locks, OR, May 8, 1939: p. 1. Located at: Forest Supervisor's Office, Mount Hood National Forest, Gresham, OR.

28. Throop, "Utterly visionary and chimerical," pp. 58-63, 159.

29. LaLande, Prehistory and history, p. 147.

30. Throop, pp. 166, 187.

31. Throop, pp. 66, 97-98, 101-102, 120, 135, 144, 147, 191.

32. LaLande, pp. 147, 189.

33. Throop, pp. 150, 217.

34. Jeffrey LaLande. Message 243, USDA Forest Service conference line from Rogue River National Forest to Mike McIntyre, Angeles National Forest. March 16, 1983. Supplied to the authors by Mike McIntyre, Angeles National Forest, Pasadena, CA.

35. Throop, p. 72.

36. "Forests protected by the CCC—the silent enemies." 1938: pp. 9-10. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 95-144, 239. Also: "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.

37. "Forests protected by the CCC," p. 8.

38. LaLande, Prehistory and history, p. 145.

39. C.J. Buck. Letter to Chief Forester, USDA Forest Service, Washington, DC. November 28, 1933: pp. 1-3. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 95-144, 81.

40. C.M. Granger. Letter to C.J. Buck, Regional Forester, Region 6, USDA Forest Service, Portland, OR. December 14, 1933: p. 1. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 95-144, 81.

41. Guy Moore interview, pp. 1-4.

42. V.V. Harphram. Memorandum to C.J. Buck, Regional Forester, Region 6, Portland, OR, concerning former enrollees now employed in commercial and industrial fields. January 27, 1936: p. 1. Located at: National Archives and Record Service, Washington, DC; Record Group 95-144, 9.

43. Guy Moore interview, pp. 1-4.

44. Six twenty six. January-February 1934; 18(1,2): p. 15. Supplied to the authors by Gerald Williams, Umpqua National Forest, Roseburg, OR.

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