Sunday, February 8, 2009

CCC Camp info goes around, comes around

When looking for information about the CCC Camp in Monument recently, I ran into Mike Smith’s extremely valuable blog about the Civilian Conservation Corp titled “Forest Army.”
Not only did Smith know about the Monument camp, but his grandfather had spent time there.
“In a 1970s newspaper interview, my grandfather William Rutherford stated he went into USFS service with the third CCC camp in Colorado and left the service while at the last CCC camp in Colorado - the last of his USFS letters are from the Monument camp, so I presume that was the last camp. (It may have been the last USFS CCC camp in Colorado - a distinction the uninitiated might miss,)” Smith wrote in a recent email.
He explained the information he had available, originally came from here in Monument as the result of an inquiry by him and a 1995 note from the postmaster in Monument, stating that they passed the inquiry along to a local bookstore, Covered Treasures.
“Leona Lacroix at Covered Treasures wrote me a note stating that they had passed my inquiry along to "The Tribune" and to the Pike's Peak Region of the USFS. I did not receive any correspondence from the newspaper but the District Ranger sent me the excerpts from the 1938 district annual, parts of which I've passed along to you now. (Neat how research sometimes works.)”
Smith asked if I found any reference to a William I. "Bill" Rutherford from Georgetown, Colorado in the CCC camps, to let him know as that was the aforementioned Grandfather.
“He was hired by the USFS in mid-1933 and worked at Wuanita Hot Springs, Norwood, Delta, Gardner, San Isabel, Idaho Springs and Monument - perhaps more,” Smith writes.
“He worked on the new divide road, did insect control in the Uncompagre and fence construction out of the Norwood camp. He was at a FERA camp in Florence for a short time, working with transient workers. He fought forest fire in the Hardscrabble Creek area and was in charge of the quarry that produced all the stone for the dam at San Isabel (on Charles Creek). He was in charge of the Gardner camp for a time and wrote about bad flooding they experienced. I believe he had some involvement in construction near La Veta, including a tunnel project.”
But the family was headquartered in Georgetown.
“Frankly, he didn't particularly like Georgetown and wrote often of how much he liked the country down around Gardner and Rye. I think he hoped to bring his whole family down there, but alas they stayed in Georgetown and today one of my uncles still lives there.”
The file he received from the district ranger in 1995 offer insight into the coming and goings of the camp.
“I don't know what was there in 1942 when they liquidated the place but I'd be interested to know what's still standing today.”
“My Monument file is rather thin, but it does include excerpts from a 1938 district annual. The excerpt covers the Woodland Park, Colorado Springs and Monument Camps. I'm attaching the three pages that deal with the Monument Camp.”
The information in the district annual is as follows.

In May 1938, 1st Lieut. Alvin C. Jenkins, then commanding Company 3810, CCC, Monument, Colorado, was advised that his Company was to be disbanded, and that the camp was to be reoccupied by a new company from the First Corps Area. Accordingly, the members were sent to three nearby camps: 1st Lieut. C.A. Davis was transferred to the Oklahoma District: and Lieut. Jenkins was attached to Camp SCS-5-C Springfield, Colorado. Adviser J.W. Herrick and Contract Physician H.B. Frosh were retained to function with the incoming company.
Meanwhile, at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, many CCC enrollees were gathering. On July 18, 1938, Company 2124 was organized with Lieut. Walter E. Quinlan Commanding, and 2nd Lieut. As Junior Officer. The trip west was begun on July 20, 1938. Of course, all the members were eager to start for the new location because it meant travel, new sights, and perhaps a little adventure. Their enthusiasm dimmed somewhat, however, as the train rolled forward, and the monotonous scenery failed to fulfill expectations. Once their destination was reached, a different feeling took place – a feeling hard to describe. The lasting beauty of the mountains, the magnificence of the vari-colored rocks, ant gorgeous panorama of far-reaching plains studded with tableland made an impressionthat was to last a lifetime. Yes, their new home at the foot of rugged Mt. Herman was indeed a welcome sight.
The New Englanders found a well-maintained camp – one that had been built from the ground floor by Company 3810. This Company was formed in July 1935 and established in Dublin, Texas, as a soil conservation project. When the work in that vicinity was fulfilled, the company moved to Monument, Colorado. The men were accompanied by Captain Paul N. Ivancich Comanding Officer: 1st Lieut. J.E. Burch, Company Officer: Captain George A. Ashfraugh, Camp Surgeon: and Mr. R.G. Stevenson, Educational Adviser.
The site for the now well developed camp was overgrown with brush and covered with rocks. As the only permanent building completed at this time was the mess hall, tents were set up until more permanent buildings could be established. Within three months, the portable barracks had arrived, and their erection gave the camp an appearance of permanency. The buildings were arranged circularly so as to allow convenience in passing from one barrack to another.
Superintendent William Brisbane and his competent staff of foreman instructed the new men in the work which they were to carry on. They were told that the primary function of the Camp’s work program was to furnish the necessary labor for raising and shipping of seedlings from the Monument Nursery to the various United State Forests throughout this region. It was pointed out that this process of raising trees consisted of a series of operations that varied with the seasons. Cone collecting, seed extracting, seeding, weeding, cultivating, watering, shading, protecting, transplanting, and stock distributing were given the major divisions for each year’s work. In addition to these regular Nursery operations incidental to the raising of trees, considerable construction work was completed by company 3810. The blacksmith shop, seed extractory, implement shed, seed storage building, tree packing shed, garage, barn and two pump houses will long remain as a tribute to the superior workmanship of these enrollees. Interest in the project ran high for the members realized that they had an excellent opportunity to learn the nursery business as a career. Enrollees Corbell and Little were rewarded for their distinguished work by being selected as semi-skilled foreman.
Sports were extremely popular with the Texans, and their teams were consitently among the best in the District. The baseball team proved its worth by winning by winning all but one of its games in a difficult schedule. An enthusiastic basketball team, not to be outdone, ran up a score of victories with only two defeats. Swimming, boxing, and tumbling teams also created records of which the Company was justly proud.
Classes of study were organized, and the educational program was functioning smoothly when Mr. Stevenson was transferred to Arizona. Mr. Vern C. Howard was sent to take his place with the disbandment of Camp SP-12-C which was located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He brought with him radio equipment, woodworking tools, and wide assortment of books to strengthen the educational set-up. Recognizing the fact that more adequate teaching space was necessary, Mr. Howard constructed a schoolhouse entirely built from scrap lumber. Assistant Educational Adviser James Leasure, who had learned radio while a member of the Civilian Conservation Corp, established his own station using the call letters W9ZCX. He sent and received messages to and from every part of the world.
At the present time well balance educational program is being maintained. Planned courses in academic, vocational and job training subjects are conducted regularly, with determining factors being the needs and desires of members. Unusual interest has been taken in the informal groups of photography, woodwork, dancing, and the various arts and crafts. Week-end trips to the Royal Gorge, the State Penitentiary, the coal mines, the Garden of the Gods, and Pikes Peak have already been taken with other scenic spots remaining on the “must see list.”
Dr. Samuel Lilienthol, one of the first Camp Surgeons to go on duty in the district, was assigned to Company 2124 in August,1938. Since his arrival, many significant improvements have been made in the Mess Hall and the Infirmary.
The work of the 2124th Company is far from complete. Its actual history still lies in the future. Mr. Donald J. Hodges, present Project Superintendent, has intensive plans for the present and the future. Several new buildings will be erected, a large amount of fence will be installed, roads will be built, and new areas will be developed to further expand the Nursery. Two side camps are in operation this summer. One to locate at Devil’s Head is developing a new camp ground, and the other situated at Indian Creek is constructing a road which will make it possible to thin a large area of the forest land to market Christmas trees.


1 comment:

Michael said...

Wonderful post and a terrific way of sharing. It is indeed amazing how our research can lead us around and amongst other folks and sometimes we manage to bump into people we'd have missed otherwise. Thank you for your terrific blog - it's wonderful and I really enjoy the pictures you share!