Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas in the CCC: Parties

The holidays were celebrated in camp with parties and special meals. Here's an excerpt from the Patagonia, AZ, camp newspaper for Dec. 1939:

          We got up about six o’clock and then ate breakfast in the Mess Hall, which was decorated with Christmas Holly and colored paper. After breakfast, we played some new games that were given to the company as a Christmas present. We had a tree and had a lot of fun decorating it.
          Then, at one o’clock we ate a dinner that was fit for a King. Boy! Did we have a fine meal, all we wanted to eat. Besides our own company there were a number of guests from Benson and Tucson, who brought some candy and other presents for the boys.
          One boy dressed up as Santa Claus and passed out all kinds of presents. These gifts consisted of anything he could get for nothing around camp. One boy got a Coca Cola bottle, one an old shoe, and another got a box of small frogs.

[enrollee Clarence Richey]

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas in the CCC: Food

The holidays in the CCC camps were celebrated with entertainment, dances, and special meals. Here's the Christmas menu from the St. David, AZ, camp for Christmas 1937:

December 25, 1937

                                    CHRISTMAS DINNER MENU

Chicken Soup                                                              Crackers
Virginia Baked Ham                                                   Candied Yams
                                    Cranberry Sauce
Roast Chicken                                                            Sage Dressing
Snowflake Potatoes                                                    Buttered Peas
Giblet Gravy                                       Sliced Tomatoes & Mayonnaise
Celery                          Olives                                      Pickles
                        Dates                                       Grapes
Butter Scotch Pie                    Coconut Cake             Hot Rolls and Butter
Assorted Candy                      Peanuts                        English Walnuts
Apples                                     Oranges                           Bananas
                        Coffee                                     Ice Water
                        Cigars                                      Cigarettes

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bob Audretsch—historian, writer, and former National Park Service ranger at Grand Canyon— has just published a book about the work of the CCC at Grand Canyon: Shaping the Park and Saving the Boys: The Civilian Conservation Corps at Grand Canyon, 1933-1942. Information on the book and the author can be found at The book is available at Ingram,, Barnes & Noble and fine bookstores everywhere.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Camp SP-6-A, Tucson, Arizona

by Phil Brown, Saguaro National Park Ranger, Tucson, AZ,

Camp Pima (SP-6-A) Is Established: On May 9, 1933, Charles Sanders and ninety-five other young men from Tucson and Ajo became the first Arizona enrollees in the newly formed Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Sanders and the others in his group were sent to Fort Huachuca for a few weeks of physical training.

When they got back to Tucson, their camp was not yet ready, so they were put to work at a camp in Randolph Park. In October, they moved to a temporary tent camp in the Tucson Mountains, west of town, for a few more weeks. A well had been dug on the selected site for a permanent camp in the Tucson Mountains, and two recruits—Clarence George Lundquist and Red Wills—were sent to the site to monitor the flow from the new well. During this time the camp sent food over to them. “Peanut butter and jam sandwiches. That’s all we got, morning, noon and night. Oh, and apples. For two weeks!” Lundquist later remembered. Once they had established that there was enough water, the company moved to the new site. This was Camp SP-6-A, known variously as Manville Well, Tucson Mountain Camp, Recreation Area Camp, or Camp Pima. This camp was in use from November 1933 to June 1941.

The CCC in the Tucson Mountains: Tucson Mountain Park had been established by the Pima County Board of Supervisors in 1929. When the CCC became available, the supervisors requested two camps in the Tucson Mountains under the auspices of the National Park Service’s State Parks unit. Camp SP-7-A lasted only one season, as the water supply was inadequate and unpredictable. Camp SP-6-A flourished.

The camp was occupied in the winter months, and the companies moved to higher elevations for the summer. Two summer seasons saw activity at Camp Pima: one year by a unit from the Department of State Camps (designated DSP-1, in 1934) and another year by a company of World War I veterans (Company 1826-V, in 1937). In 1940, the camp was re-designated as CP-1 (County Parks).

Work Projects: The CCC boys worked on projects to develop the recreational areas and to combat soil erosion. They built or improved the unpaved roads into and through the park. They established miles of trails with restraining walls and erosion barriers as needed, and chiseled steps out of local stone. They also used local stone to build fire rings, picnic tables and benches, restroom facilities, buildings, and ramadas (picnic shelters).

At the top of Gates Pass, a scenic route through the Tucson Mountains, they built a parking area and restroom, scenic overlook, and even an amphitheater.  In park canyons, they constructed twenty-six debris or check dams to back up flash floods and slow the rate of erosion. The boys put in several windmills with cisterns and overflow ponds to provide water for wildlife and built “spreader” dikes to spread water from smaller washes out over the nearby desert.

CCC boys built the “lodge” or “Mountain House”—two large adobe buildings with fireplaces and beam ceilings connected by a covered breezeway—at the site of the planned Tucson Mountain Park Headquarters. They also built an electrical building and stable at this site. The two adobe buildings became the entrance complex of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a world-renowned zoo and botanical gardens. The stable building now houses the museum’s maintenance department.

Camp Life:  Tucson CCC boys “adopted” a local herd of javelina (Collared Peccaries; a piglike native mammal) and fed them on kitchen scraps. They invented a kind of game of “tag” with the animals, with the barracks serving as a safe base for the enrollees.

Enrollees ate three good meals a day, often simple food but nutritional and lots of it. Enrollee Francisco “Chico” Bejerano, who was at SP-6-A in 1938, was asked if he could recall any particularly memorable meals he had had in the CCC. He replied, “Yeah. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner!”

Origin of Enrollees: Boys at SP-6-A were nearly all from the CCC’s Eighth District, and came from Arizona, New Mexico, or Texas; some came from Oklahoma. Few were from places farther east, and Arizonans often expressed their distaste for “easterners” and “hoodlums” from New York or Pennsylvania.

Camp Pima Closes: The last CCC company departed Camp Pima in June 1941. In 1942, the Army took the barracks and other buildings down and sent them to a mechanics’ center in Phoenix as part of the World War II effort. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy designated the northern half of Tucson Mountain Park as Saguaro National Monument’s western unit. In 1978, the land containing the site of Camp Pima was added to the national monument. In 1994, Congress re-designated the monument as Saguaro National Park.

Camp Pima Today: The site of Camp Pima is now quiet, sandy desert, with cement slabs, crumbling adobe walls, pipes, posts, and little else to suggest it was once a bustling community. But the trails, picnic areas, and roadways built by the Camp Pima CCC boys in Pima County’s Tucson Mountain Park and Saguaro National Park’s Tucson Mountain District are still in use today.

Note: A fuller version of this article will appear in the CCC Legacy Journal ( for December 2011.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The CCC in Vail, Arizona

The CCC worked at Camp SP-10-A at Colossal Cave in Vail, Arizona, from 1934 to 1937. They helped develop the cave as a tourist attraction, making enhancements so that more people could explore it. The buildings they constructed outside the cave entrance are still in use today.

A history of the Colossal Cave CCC camp, with photographs, can be found in my book, Vail and Colossal Cave Mountain Park, available from Arcadia Publishing and other online retailers.

The majority of the enrollees who ended up at the Colossal Cave camp came from the southwestern states of Arizona, Oklahoma, or Texas.  The Texans, also known as the “Texas Invasions,” hailed from south-central and southeastern Texas; the Oklahomans came west from the Tulsa area; and the Arizona enrollees hailed from southeastern Arizona towns, including Bisbee, Douglas, Nogales, Superior, and Tucson.

The CCC boys labored hard and long within the cave.They enlarged the cave entrance; excavated rocks and debris; tunneled their way through; installed lights, trails, and handrails; constructed limestone buildings at the mouth of the cave; and built picnic areas and roads in the surrounding area.

What would it have been like to spend a day working inside the cave? It would have been cool (approx. 70 degrees) but also dark (until lighting was installed), dusty, and likely smelling of bat guano (feces).  

Here's some excerpts from the camp newspaper that give an idea of life and work inside the cave:

— Cecil Wilson and his crew worked on a tunneling project in Colossal Cave. They took dirt and rock out a bucketful at a time. Albert Price is a human mole. He gets inside of holes someway and digs them from the inside out. Charley Hall directs the travel of the sand bucket along its cable and entertains the gang with songs and stories (you know the kind he tells). Vernon Clark, hoist boss, is continually crying out that he is tired of his life of ups and downs. Joe Martinez and Henry Schafer have, according to their estimation, dumped enough sand to salt all the spinach served in the CCC camps. They say that it takes a lot of grit to hold those tough jobs they have.

 —Cecil Wilson is pusher on the gang laying the pavement to the Bridal Chamber and says that Hades isn’t the only place that’s paved with good intentions.

—Mr. Shepherd is the boss of this adventurous gang. He sports an electric lantern, and, according to reports, is just perfecting a new technique of swinging over bottomless chasms by three fingernails. Great fun climbing around those crevices! This gang likes it. They can climb with a carbide light held in their teeth, a roll of wire in one hand, a pair of pliers in the other, and kicking a soldering iron along with their feet.

This blog presents information about the history of the CCC in Southern Arizona. Feel free to contact me with any comments or further questions! All information in this blog is copyrighted by the author.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The CCC in St. David and Patagonia, AZ

Water is a precious commodity in the Arizonan desert. Most of the year water is scarce, but when the rains do come during the summer monsoons, they come in a deluge.  This water often runs off and causes problems with soil erosion.  Controlling and conserving water are important to the people of southeast Arizona, particularly to those involved in the region’s cattle grazing industry. 

During the late 1930s and 1940s, CCC Company 3840 worked in the St. David and Patagonia areas helping ranchers and residents combat soil erosion and conserve water. The federal Soil Conservation Service supervised their work, which involved building dams and rock spreaders, erecting stock tanks for cattle, revegetating the desert, and building roads and truck trails.

The boys of this camp came from Arizona, Oklahoma, and Texas. Outside of their work, they took classes, played sports, and went on trips to towns such as Bisbee, Tombstone, Benson, and Tucson. They enjoyed themselves at camp dances and films, and had a lot of fun telling stories about each other in the camp newspapers.

Duarte of the Beach Side camp reports his hand fit as a fiddle and ready for work in 3 or 4 months. [camp newspaper, 1938]

The greatest advantage of the pool tables is that Lieutenant Walker has no difficulty in locating his First Sergeant and Clerks. [camp newspaper, February 1936]

  We will save on rations for awhile since the dentist pulled Campus’s teeth. It will also give   some of us fellows a chance to eat. [camp newspaper, January 1940]

The little girl that Jerry is infatuated with in Patagonia seems to take up three fourths of his thinking capacity. [camp newspaper, November 1939]

  Brophy Wit?
  Mr. David:         “Christian, that dike has to be finished in a hurry.” 
  L.P. Christian: “Well, sir, Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
  Mr. David:         “I wasn’t bossing that job, either.”     [camp newspaper, June 1940]

I’ve written an extensive history of the St. David and Patagonia camps and compiled camp rosters; if you know anything about these camps or would like to know something, let me know!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Civilian Conservation Corps Recognition Day 2012

The CCC made a huge contribution to the state of Arizona, working on soil erosion control, road improvement, and tourist attraction projects. For the past two years, the CCC Recognition Day has served as a day to recognize the contributions of the CCC to the history of the state and to share information about these contributions with the general public.

In 2012, this event will be held at Saguaro National Park West at 2700 N. Kinney Road on March 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. At this event, CCC historians will be on hand to answer questions and share history; photos, oral histories, camp newspapers, rosters, documents, artifacts, and books will be available for viewing; authors will speak about their CCC; movies and TV shows about the history of the CCC will be shown; and tours of the CCC Camp SP-6-A site will be given. This event has been designated an Arizona Centennial Legacy Project.

For more information on this event, contact Sharon E. Hunt at or Philip Brown at

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Camp Newspapers

I love the CCC camp newspapers, published by the enrollees under the guidance of the camp's educational advisor. The newspapers were meant to teach literacy to the enrollees and to build camp morale. They had regular articles about the camp's work projects, filling in some of the blanks about these projects left out of the official government CCC reports. They also contain articles on the camp's educational program, safety concerns,  and how to be a good American citizen.

But the best part of the newspapers are the jokes and stories the enrollees tell about themselves. These were young men, and the newspapers are full of jokes about how much they love to eat, what happened at last weekend's dance in town, who is dating what girl in the community, and how well (or badly) their camp sports teams are doing. The enrollees also contributed illustrations to the newspapers, such as these illustrations from the Walker Canyon Reporter newspaper in Santa Cruz County:

                                                                     The Proposal


This joke from the Madera Canyon camp newspaper shows that pranks were a regular part of CCC camp life:

Tommie Gavagen says he is going to take his bed with him next time he goes to Phoenix. When he came home the other day, the boys in barrack four had removed the springs that held the mattress, and put strings instead.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Civilian Conservation Corps in Southern Arizona

This blog will talk a little bit about some of the history of the CCC in Southern 
Arizona. Feel free to contact me with any comments or further questions! All 
information in this blog is copyrighted by the author.

Food in the CCC

August 18, 2011
Food in the CCC
Napoleon has been credited with the saying, "An army marches on its stomach."  
When it came to feeding the men of the Civilian Conservation Corps, this saying was 
taken very seriously. Food was an important part of CCC camp life. Many of the 
enrollees came from homes where food was scarce, and they expended plenty of 
calories working on their CCC conservation projects.

It was the U.S. Army who was responsible for feeding the enrollees. Army personnel trained 
the cooks and bakers, developed menus and recipes, and bought the food.

Cooks and bakers attended U.S. Army training schools and/or were trained on the 
job. They were paid $45/month, quite a bit more than the $30 other enrollees 

Menus were developed each day, approved by the camp commander, and sent to 
CCC headquarters in Washington, D.C. For special celebrations, such as Christmas, 
the enrollees were fed special meals.

Here's a sample menu from 1941 at Camp SCS-26-A, Patagonia, AZ


    Stewed fruits                         
    Dry Cereal                             
    Pork sausage                         
    Gravy & Biscuits                  
    Fried Potatoes 

Dinner (in field)
      Meat spread sandwich
      Fruit spread
      Cheese spread
      Fresh fruit

      Beef soup               
      Vegetable salad
      Boiled beef and dumplings
      Iced cocoa
      Boiled potatoes                 
      Buns & butter
      Raisin pie

Food came from local markets and from CCC district quartermasters.The food 
allowance ranged from 40 to 45 cents/day per enrollee through the history of the 

Here's a recording of the perishable food consumed at Camp SCS-26-A, Patagonia, 
AZ, in 1941. The camp had about 200 enrollees.

    Fresh Beef: 1,402 lbs.          
    Bread: 2,350 slices     
    Potatoes: 4,000 
    Ice Cream: 30 gallons 
    Butter: 320 lbs. 
    Cheese: 389 lbs. 
    Eggs: 480 dozen                  
    Milk: 5,033 quarts     
    Frankfurters: 302

Lots of fats and meats in the CCC enrollee's diet, which provided fuel for their 
demanding physical labor.