Most evenings it is a peaceful meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park. Deer drift casually through the valley, and as autumn comes on, dusk brings the annual cycle of the bugling of the elk as the males challenge each other for possession of their harems.
Centuries of such solitude were rudely interrupted the morning of May 17, 1933 when 48 men arrived and hurriedly began setting up a camp - tents, latrines, mess hall for themselves and the 112 men who were to arrive the next day. Thus came into existence NP1-C, the first CCC camp west of the Mississippi River.
As one of the events of the First Hundred Days, on March 31, 1933, President Roosevelt signed "An Act for the Relief of Unemployment through the Performance of Useful Public Work." No time was wasted: the first man was enrolled within a week, the first camp was established in Virginia by the middle of April, and by mid-May they were at work here.
For the next nine years they worked. They constructed roads, trails, buildings and phone lines. They performed a variety of tasks - fighting fires, searching for lost hikers, designing museum exhibits, obliterating abandoned roads - the list goes on and on.
Welcome as these contributions may have been, even more important was the restoration of the self-respect of the workers who had been defeated by the Great Depression. Perhaps it was said best by a boy from the streets of New York who found himself in the high country of the Rockies, "This contact with nature ... broadens the mind and gives deeper insight into life. It is a young man's best friend when he is out of a job and low in spirits - America should thank President Roosevelt for the Civilian Conservation Corps."
Even now as we drive the roads, visit the museums and hike the trails of this national park, we enjoy the benefits of a magnificent
concept, conceived of economic desperation and brought to fruition here in the valleys and forests of Rocky Mountain National Park.