Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fourth Annual Civilian Conservation Corps Recognition Day

The Fourth Annual Civilian Conservation Corps Recognition Day will be held on April 13, 2013 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Saguaro National Park West in Tucson, AZ! This year is the 80th anniversary of the CCC, and Recognition Day honors the significant achievements and enduring legacy of the CCC program and the CCC boys. The event will feature presentations by CCC historians, information tables staffed by organizations and individuals knowledgeable about the CCC, photo displays, and living history presentations. A schedule of presentations and events will be forthcoming in January. For more information, contact Sharon at sharon@wordhunting.com.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Video of CCC Co. 3840, Camp SCS-19-A, St. David, AZ

Elson Alvarez was an enrollee and LEM (Local Experienced Man) with the Civilian Conservation Corps at the camps in St. David and Patagonia. He was and is a talented photographer, and while he was in the CCC at St. David he took a video of the camp. He re-visited this area 50 years later to see how it had changed. The video is available for viewing at YouTube at

Monday, August 6, 2012

On June 21, I went down to the lovely town of Patagonia in southern Arizona and gave a presentation to about 25 on the history of the CCC there. The talk was set up by the Patagonia Museum, and I thank them very much for their generosity and opportunity to share the story of the CCC boys. As a special treat, my friend the kind and intelligent CCCer Elson Alvarez joined us and was able to give people a first-hand account of what it was like to be a CCC boy in Patagonia.

Several Forest Service companies lived at the Patagonia CCC camp (designated F-63-A), including 832, 862, and 2847. They worked on building and improving the Nogales Ranger Station and Patagonia Ranger Station, constructing range and boundary fences, stringing telephone lines, erecting dams, developing springs for wildlife, gathering seeds, and building and repairing roads. They built a fire trail from the Air Port to a point five miles toward the Flux Canyon Road. In fall 1935, the enrollees built the Flux Canyon Road to provide a road for forest firefighters, miners, and tourists.

Company 3840 moved to the Patagonia camp in the fall of 1939 from their camp in nearby St. David. Their camp was designated SCS-26-A, since Company 3840's work projects were under the supervision of the Soil Conservation Service.  

The boys of Co. 3840 worked on soil erosion and water conservation projects (building diversion dikes, check dams, water spreaders; planting); road repair; and fence construction in the nearby towns and ranches and the Santa Rita Mountains. They built a dam for flood protection for Patagonia residents; built a dike at St. David; repaired roads near Fort Huachuca; and built dams at Flux and Josephine canyons. They worked on local cattle ranches constructing truck trails, fencing, and stock tanks, including the Buchenberg Ranch, the Louis Sands Ranch, and the Saxon Ranch.

The day after the talk, I was able to visit one of the earthen dams the CCC boys constructed. The nearby homeowner kindly allowed me on his land and showed me around. These photos are (1) of the drain and (2) of the dam. Seventy-three years later, the dam is still there!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Third Annual Civilian Conservation Corps Recognition Day Wrap-Up

Civilian Conservation Corps Recognition Day: “Honoring the Work of the CCC in Arizona and throughout the Country,” March 31, 2012, Tucson, AZ

The Third Annual Civilian Conservation Corps Recognition Day (CCCRD) was held on March 31, 2012 at Saguaro National Park West in Tucson, AZ. This all-day event honored the work of the CCC and shared the stories of the CCC boys and their work. It was designated an Arizona Centennial Legacy Project, as part of the celebration of the state’s centennial. The event was a collaborative effort, involving the following organizations: CCC Legacy; Chiricahua National Monument; Colossal Cave Mountain Park; Saguaro National Park; San Pedro Valley Arts and Historical Society, Benson; the Southwest Conservation Corps; and WordHunting, LLC.

The event saw more than 800 attendees, who were able to meet CCC personnel and families, view photo displays, talk to CCC historians and authors, tour a nearby CCC camp site, listen to presentations, watch films on the CCC, and speak with representatives of the participating organizations.

Speakers for the event were Robert W. “Bob” Audrestch, an expert and author on the CCC in Northern Arizona and at the Grand Canyon, who spoke on the CCC at Grand Canyon; Mike Smith, president of the Phoenix chapter of the national CCC Legacy organization and writer of several blogs on the CCC in Arizona, who spoke on CCC accidents and deaths; Phil Brown, a park ranger at Saguaro National Park, who spoke on the CCC in the Tucson Mountains; Martie Maierhauser, director of Colossal Cave Mountain Park, who spoke on the CCC at Colossal Cave; and Sharon Hunt, who maintains a blog on the CCC in Southern Arizona and writes on the CCC at Colossal Cave, St. David, and Patagonia and on the Southern Arizona CCC camp newspapers, who spoke on the CCC at Colossal Cave and on the CCC Soil Conservation Service camps in St. David and Patagonia. Van Fowers did a living history presentation on the life of a CCC cook, and the Southwest Conservation Corps spoke on the work of this organization. Phi Brown led tours of the nearby site of CCC Camp SP-6-A.

For more information on the event, including plans for next year’s event, please contact Sharon E. Hunt, Coordinator of CCC Recognition Day, WordHunting, LLC, sharon@wordhunting.comwww.wordhunting.com.

Al Alvarez, son of Elson; Elson Alvarez, CCC enrollee and LEM at St. David and Patagonia, AZ; and speaker Michael I. Smith at Third Annual CCCRD

 CCC Recognition Day coordinator Sharon E. Hunt talks to event attendees.

Monday, April 2, 2012

CCC Recognition Day

CCC Recognition Day on Saturday, March 31st was a great success! We had a packed house for the presentations and lots of visitors to the event. It was wonderful to share the story of the CCC with so many. We even had two CCC enrollees grace us with their presence! I want to acknowledge all those who participated in and helped me coordinate the event:

William Ascarza, who brought his Arizona history publications
Colossal Cave Mountain Park
Southwest Conservation Corps
Bob Audretsch, author and CCC historian
Mike Smith, CCC historian and blogger
Van Fowers, living history presenter and collector of all kinds of cool, old kitchen equipment
Sharon Hunt, CCC historian and author and photo buff
Steven Purkiss, Park Guide, National Park Service, Chircahua National Monument

Mike Smith, who spoke on mayhem, accidents, and deaths in the CCC
Bob Audretsch, who spoke on the CCC at the Grand Canyon
Sharon Hunt, who spoke on the CCC in St. David and Patagonia
Van Fowers, who gave a living history presentation as a CCC cook
Phil Smith, who spoke on the CCC in Tucson Mountain Park
Martie Maierhauser, who spoke on the CCC at Colossal Cave

The families of CCC enrollees Merle Timblin (Melissa), Elson Alvarez (Martha, Al, and Sylvia), and Jack Griffin (Silas).

The rangers of Saguaro National Park West who provided help with coordinating the event, videotaped the event, helped with the computer setup, hauled tables and display screens, and were wonderful in answering questions before and at the event.

And most of all Elson and Merle, who entertained us all with stories of their lives in the CCC.

Next year is the 80th anniversary of the founding of the CCC, and I hope to have a grand celebration of that event next year. The event webpage <http://wordhunting.com/CCC_Recognition_Day> will contain information on plans for next year.

In the meantime, if you have questions or information to share, please contact us through the webpage.

Sharon Hunt

Friday, March 23, 2012

Richard H. Zoller, CCC enrollee

Richard Zoller served in the CCC in Company 260 at Camp F-14 in Idaho where he worked on projects to eradicate the white pine blister rust. When the camp closed, he went to Camp SP-4 in Alabama where he and his friends worked on a state park near Weogufka. His son Guy has graciously shared his dad's memoirs with me, and I've posted them at my website http://www.wordhunting.com/ccc

CCC Recognition Day

For those of you coming out to the CCC Recognition Day on March 31 from 9-5 at the Red Hills Visitor Center at Saguaro National Park West, the Pico de Gallo restaurant will be catering the event. They will be serving carne asada, burritos, and fruit cups. 

The park has waived the park entrance fee for people attending the event.

The Southwest Conservation Corps will be there along with representatives from Colossal Cave Mountain Park and the Chiricachua National Monument. Mike Smith is coming down from Phoenix and Bob Audretsch is traveling from Flagstaff to talk about the Grand Canyon and Northern Arizona. Phil Brown will talk about the CCC in Saguaro National Park, and Sharon Hunt will talk about the CCC in St. David and Patagonia. 

We'll be showing videos on the CCC and displaying photos from that time period. Between their talks, historians will be available to answer questions about the CCC throughout the country.
Several CCC enrollees and families have told us that they plan to attend. We can't wait to recognize them!

Contact Sharon Hunt at sharon@wordhunting.com for more information.

Monday, March 5, 2012

CCC Recognition Day

Things are coming together for CCC Recognition Day, which will be held from 9-5 on March 31 at Saguaro National Park West. The Arizona Daily Star had an article somewhat about the event in the 3/4 newspaper. I say somewhat because the article really didn't address what is happening with the event or recognize people responsible for bringing it together or the people that it's all about. So, in honor of Recognition Day, I want to make sure the following individuals and groups receive recognition as integral contributors to the event:

The CCC Legacy, esp. President Joan Sharpe
The Southwest Conservation Corps, particularly Jean, Holly, and Kamilia
The Benson, AZ, Museum
The St. David Heritage and Cultural Society
The speakers, particularly those who are traveling long distances to be here: Bob Audretsch, Mike Smith
Van Fowers
Colossal Cave Mountain Park
The Saguaro National Park West administration

The CCC enrollees and families who are planning to attend and have shared their stories and photos or the event  (I'll keep their names private because I haven't asked them for permission to mention their names but they are what this event is all about)

The event has been designated an Arizona Centennial Legacy Project.

The event webpage has a list of speakers and other event information: http://wordhunting.com/CCC_Recognition_Day

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Grand Canyon's Phantom Ranch by Bob Audretsch

Robert W. "Bob" Audretsch has published a book in Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series. The book,  Grand Canyon's Phantom Ranch, includes photographs and information on the CCC in the Grand Canyon. Find out more at http://www.arcadiapublishing.com/9780738585253/Grand-Canyon-s-Phantom-Ranch

Bob will talk about the CCC at the Grand Canyon at CCC Recognition Day on March 31, 2012, at the Red Hills Visitor Center at Saguaro National Park West, Tucson. For details, see

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Madera Canyon

A veterans' camp worked at Madera Canyon in Santa Cruz County, AZ, in 1936. They then moved to Camp SP-6-A in the Tucson Mountains in 1937. A short history of this camp, a roster (nonpofficial), and an index to the camp newspapers is posted on my website: www.wordhunting.com/ccc under the entry for Madera Canyon. I have written a more complete history, transcribed and indexed the newspapers, and have additional information on this camp. You can contact me at sharon@wordhunting.com.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

History of the Madera Canyon, Arizona, CCC Camp

Here's a short history of the Madera Canyon CCC camp; I've written a more extensive history if you're interested in  more details.

History of the Madera Canyon Camp: Madera Canyon was home to CCC Camp F-30-A from 1933 to 1938 and CCC companies 1838, 1826-V, and 2848. The enrollees at Madera Canyon came from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, or Texas. The “V” in Co. 1826’s designation meant that this was a company composed of WWI veterans, who were older than other enrollees and often married. 

Work Projects: The camp work projects fell into two main areas: conservation of the watershed and forest, and development of recreational facilities.   

Camp Life: The enrollees had an active camp life, with the rec hall the center of recreational activities. They held dances, open to outsiders; enjoyed film nights; read books and newspapers; celebrated holidays with special meals and entertainment programs; and played pool and checkers. Sports were an important part of camp life, including volleyball, softball, croquet, horseshoes, and track and field. They took field trips to nearby towns for rodeos, dances, sightseeing, and athletic contests.

The camp newspapers were a way to build camp morale and literacy skills; they are also a chance for the enrollees to get in some good-natured ribbing towards each other. “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 barracks four had removed the springs that held the mattress, and put strings instead.”

Value of the CCC: The camp newspaper summed up the enduring contribution the Madera Canyon CCC men made to this area: “This work, once done, will live on after we have left the canyon, and will still be a source of pleasure to tired seekers for relaxation, rest and recreation  . . .  we will realize more fully in the future that the work we did in the shadow of the mountains was not done in vain.”