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NPS Expansion: 1930s







New Deal



NPS 1933-39




Expansion of the National Park Service in the 1930s:
Administrative History

Chapter Three: Impact of the New Deal on the National Park Service
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A. Emergency Conservation Work--Civilian Conservation Corps

Probably the most popular emergency relief work program in the 1930s was the CCC, [4] one of President Roosevelt's pet projects that received top priority in the early New Deal period. The leaders of the National Park Service recognized that the CCC was a potential bonanza for the national parks Horace Albright, who represented the Department of the Interior on the CCC advisory council, put considerable effort into getting the program started in the spring and summer of 1933. From the beginning, the CCC was able to accomplish useful work in the parks because each unit in the park system had prepared a master plan for developmental and protective work that was generally kept six years ahead of date in order to provide a full program of long-term development in the event that appropriations were enlarged in any year. These plans were quickly refurbished in early 1933 because Albright and his associates in the Washington office had anticipated that the national parks might be used for economic "pump-priming" public works projects. [5]

The Department of the Interior, through the National Park Service, selected all CCC camp locations and work in the National Park System, furnished equipment and transportation for such projects, and provided for the technical planning, supervision, and execution of the work in the parks and monuments. fn addition, it made recommendations on all projects in state parks and cooperated with state authorities in supervising, assisting, and advising in the conduct of work on such projects. The department, which directed CCC operations in Hawaii, Alaska, and the Virgin Islands, was also responsible for the entire CCC program within Indian reservations, through its Office of Indian Affairs. [6]

During the spring of 1933 the National Park Service began to develop an organization to direct the activities of the CCC under its charge. Horace Albright was replaced by Director Cammerer as the Interior Department representative on the advisory council in August 1933 upon his resignation. Associate Director Arthur E. Demaray served as the alternate on the advisory council. Chief Forester John D. Coffman became the liaison officer for the various bureaus of the Department of the Interior and supervised the program for the national parks and monuments. Other Park Service personnel were also assigned to various supervisory roles in the CCC work in the National Park System:

Frank A. Kittredge, Chief Engineer, Branch of Engineering--supervision of engineering in western parks

Oliver G. Taylor, Chief, Eastern Division, Branch of Engineering--supervision of engineering in eastern parks

Verne E. Chatelain, Chief Historian, Division of History--supervision of historical, interpretive, and museum activities

Thomas C. Vint, Chief Architect, Branch of Plans and Design--supervision of plans and design in western parks

Charles E. Peterson, Chief, Eastern Division, Branch of Plans and Design--supervision of plans and design in eastern parks

Assistant Director Conrad L. Wirth, Chief of the Branch of Planning, directed the State Park ECW with the assistance of Herbert Evison, who also served as executive secretary of the National Conference on State Parks. The field organization of the State Park ECW was decentralized by dividing the United States into four districts each with a district office (Washington, D.C.; Indianapolis, Indiana; Denver, Colorado; and San Francisco, California) headed by a district officer--a development that foreshadowed the regionalization of the Park Service some three years later. Attached to the district offices were staffs of inspectors who were in continuous contact with the project work as well as the supervisory personnel on the work site. [7]

The field organization of the National Park Service consisted of a project supervisor in each camp under whom was an engineer, technical forester, landscape architect, and various historical and wildlife technicians. The company of enrollees was divided into sections and subsections, each led by one of these men and performing its own particular function. [8]

On April 29, 1933, Director Robert Fechner of the CCC approved recommendations for various types of work in the state parks that had been drawn up by Park Service officials and submitted by Secretary Ickes. It was noted that:

Adequate protection for the natural resources of state parks involves not only measures somewhat similar to those employed in public forests,--such as the construction of fire breaks and protection of roads and trails, and cleanup of areas of extra fire hazard, but also such planning and development for public use as will facilitate adequate control of that use. This involves the development of camp and picnic grounds in places of least hazard, either from fire or wearing use of the landscape; establishment of bridle and foot trails that will permit the user to reach the beauty spots of these areas, in locations that will involve the minimum destruction or modification of valuable landscape features; and establishment of adequate water supply, sanitary and waste disposal facilities, not only to protect the health of those who use the parks, but to prevent, as far as possible, the pollution of streams and sources of water supply . . . .

The following types of work were approved:

  1. Structures--trail, camp and picnic ground shelters, toilets, custodian's cottages, bath houses, etc.--construction and repair.

  2. Camp tables, fire places, other camp and picnic ground facilities--construction and maintenance.

  3. Bridges, as adjuncts of park roads, protection roads and trails, and recreational bridle and foot trails--construction and maintenance.

  4. Water supply systems, sewers, incinerators and other waste disposal facilities--construction and repair.

  5. Park roads--construction and maintenance.

  6. Dams, to provide water recreation facilities--construction and maintenance.

  7. Fire towers, tool sheds, fire control water supply reservoirs--construction and maintenance. [9]

In his annual report in June 1933 Director Albright commented on the objectives of the CCC and the work already underway through its auspices:

Officials of the National Park Service have a deep appreciation that they were enabled to assist in carrying out President Roosevelt's emergency conservation program, one of the greatest humanitarian movements ever conceived for the relief of distress. In addition to its primary purpose of relief, the conservation work accomplished will be of far-reaching importance to the whole country and will build up the health and morale of a large portion of the young manhood of the Nation, fitting them better to be leaders of the future.

Concerning the initial implementation of the CCC activities under the bureau's supervision, he noted:

As soon as the emergency conservation program received presidental approval, 70 emergency conservation camps were established in national parks and monuments, including the military areas, and 105 on State park and allied lands, making a total of 175 camps thus supervised. The personnel of these camps included 35,000 enrolled men and approximately 2,300 men in supervisory and advisory capacities.

All work within the areas under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service was carefully planned by experienced landscape architects, park engineers, and foresters, and in the historical and military parks historical technicians were employed to insure the careful preservation and interpretation of the historic values. The establishment of emergency conservation camps within these areas, particularly in the national parks, permitted the accomplishment of work that had been needed greatly for years, but which was impossible and would doubtless have continued impossible of accomplishment under the ordinary appropriations available.

Especially has the fire hazard been reduced and the appearance of forest stands greatly improved by clean-up work along many miles of park highways; many acres of unsightly burns have been cleared; miles of fire trails and truck trails have been constructed for the protection of the park forests and excellent work accomplished in insect control and blister-rust control and in other lines of forest protection; improvements have been made in the construction and development of telephone lines, fire lookouts, and guard cabins; and landscaping and erosion control has been undertaken.

In his report Albright described the efforts of a CCC camp performing highway beautification work along the approach highway to Acadia National Park between Ellsworth and Bar Harbor, Maine. This project was undertaken at the

request of the State of Maine, in cooperation with the American Legion of Ellsworth, and includes roadside planting and elimination of unsightly telephone and electric-light poles under scenic easements obtained from property owners. In this connection the State is securing scenic easements to prevent the erection of hot-dog stands and other unsightly structures along the beautiful highway. [10]

In June 1934 Director Cammerer noted that some 100,000 young men had been engaged in CCC work under the direction of some 4,000 professionally and technically trained Park Service personnel since the inception of the program:

During the first Emergency Conservation Work enrollment period, April 1, 1933, to September 30, 1933, 70 camps were established in national parks and monuments and 105 in State, county, and metropolitan parks. In the second enrollment period, October 1, 1933, to March 31, 1934, 61 camps existed in national parks and monuments and 239 in 32 States in State park areas; while in the third enrollment period, April 1, 1934, to September 30, 1934, 102 camps were allotted to national parks and monuments, and 268 camps were assigned to State parks and related areas with the camps existing in 40 different states. Plans have been made for 79 camps in national parks and monuments and for 293 camps in State parks and associated areas with camps in 41 States for the fourth enrollment period which will extend from October 1, 1934, to March 31, 1935. In addition, the extension of the drought-relief program has caused the allotment of 6 drought-relief Emergency Conservation Work camps to national parks and monuments and 52 such camps to State parks and associated areas for the year ending June 30, 1935. The Emergency Conservation Work program was extended to the Territory of Hawaii with 577 enrollees allotted to the Territorial portion and one 200-man camp to Hawaii National Park. . . .

Cammerer also summarized the advantages of increasing cooperation with state, and, to a lesser extent, county and municipal agencies through the CCC program:

There can be no doubt that the Emergency Conservation Work program has been to a very large degree responsible both for increased interest in all types of parks in which it is being carried on and for the tremendous increase in State park acreage. Much of this increase in State park lands has come through donations by private individuals or corporations, although a number of States have continued or resumed park-land purchases. In some instances county or city funds have been expended in the purchase of desirable park lands. In many cases, the comprehensive planning required by the Park Service as a basis for Emergency Conservation Work, has indicated serious deficiencies in a number of parks which have been remedied in one way or another.

Since the inauguration of the work . . . the total acreage added to these [state] systems since April 1, 1933, comes close to the half million mark. [11]

In June 1935 it was reported that 150,000 young men had been engaged in CCC work to date under the direction of some 6,000 Park Service supervisory personnel. During the enrollment period from October 1, 1934, to March 31, 1935, there were 79 camps operating in the National Park System and 293 in the state and related areas. Total expenditures for the Park Service phase of the ECW program to date amounted to $44,710,730. Effective March 1, 1935, the alignment of the four district CCC offices had been expanded to include eight regions with regional offices in Springfield, Massachusetts; Bronxville, New York; Richmond, Virginia; Atlanta, Georgia; Indianapolis, Indiana; Omaha, Nebraska; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and San Francisco, California. [12]

In June 1935, after the CCC program had been in operation for two years, Director Fechner issued a summary report on the accomplishments of ECW. He observed that through "Emergency Conservation Work the development of the Nation's recreational areas has been advanced further than would have been possible in 10 or 20 years under the old order that prevailed prior to initiation of the C.C.C." The specific work projects which had been completed would aid "field officers of the National Park Service in an effective manner to conserve and preserve natural features. Protection against fire, insect infestation, blister rust, and tree disease; roadside fixation; and erosion control have been major phases of the activity." Furthermore, CCC activities had aided "in developing, protecting, and perpetuating natural areas, in protecting and preserving wildlife, in restoring battlefield sites, in providing guide service, and in developing various facilities which will provide the means for our citizens to reach and utilize the scenic and primitive areas without despoiling them." Among the most notable projects Fechner described were the clearing and cleanup of some 3,199 acres of piled-up and fallen timber on the shores of Jackson Lake in Wyoming and soil erosion work on 442 acres and seeding and sodding of 117 acres at Vicksburg National Military Park. Control of forest fires within the areas supervised by the National Park Service was a valuable contribution of the CCC--69,984 man-days used in fighting fires; 43,885 man-days devoted to fire presuppression and prevention; 1,000 miles of protection trails built; and construction of numerous lookout houses, fire-tool caches, boat docks, and telephone and radio installations. Forest insect infestation control had been carried out over an area of 272,080 acres in the National Park System, the major portion of this work being directed against the bark beetle in the western coniferous forests. The relief model, diorama, and museum exhibit laboratories at Fort Hunt, Virginia, and Berkeley, California, had prepared numerous materials to enhance the interpretive programs of the areas in the National Park System. Some twenty-three CCC camps were assigned to development and restoration work in historical areas, including Jamestown, Morristown, and the Civil War battlefields near Richmond Virginia--work that "was founded on intensive and careful historical and archeological research." Following these steps conservation work was undertaken in the historical areas--erosion control, fertilization, planting, fire-prevention measures to protect historic buildings and invaluable records, and construction of safe roads to make historical points of interest accessible to the public. Land acquisition programs were also underway in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mammoth Cave National Park, Shenandoah National Park, and Colonial National Monument.

Fechner observed that interest "among the States in the State park phase of Emergency Conservation Work has been intense." A few states with established park programs, such as New York, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, California, and Michigan, "eagerly grasped the opportunity it presented." Five states which possessed no parks when the CCC was established had acquired properties for integration into comprehensive park systems. Up to April 1, 1935, approximately 457,000 acres were added to the state park systems, bringing the total to 3,650,000 acres. The state park program combined conservation, recreation, restoration, rehabilitation, and the protection of wildlife with the basic purpose of the program being the "conservation of the valuable natural resources that properly selected State parks contain." This underlying purpose was supplemented by "provision of camp grounds, picnic grounds, shelters, and bathing, boating, and fishing facilities, with pure and adequate water supply and necessary sanitary installations for the safety and comfort of the public." The accomplishments of the state park division up to June 30, 1935, were:

Miles of telephone lines790
Miles of foot, horse, and vehicle trails4,856
Foot, horse, and vehicle bridges1,930
Man-days, fighting forest fires100,242
Rods of fences184,175
Impounding and large diversion dams (largely recreational)899
Lookout houses108
Lookout towers67
Acres of insect-pest control164,591[13]

On January 15, 1936, the administration of ECW activities in the National Park System which had been handled by Chief Forester John D. Coffman since inception of CCC work, was consolidated with the administration of the larger State Park ECW program in a newly-created Branch of Recreation, Land Planning, and State Cooperation. As the head of this new branch, Conrad Wirth was named to replace Director Cammerer as the representative of the Department of the Interior on the ECW advisory council. [14]

During fiscal year 1936 the number of CCC camps operating in the national parks and monuments varied from a high of 117 in November 1935 to a low of 80 in February and March 1936. The number of camps in state parks declined from a high of 457 in October 1935 to a low of 345 in June 1936. Ten camps with 1,200 enrollees were in Hawaii, one of which was in Hawaii National Park, and two 100-man camps were operating in the Virgin Islands. Land acquisition programs using ECW funds were underway in Big Bend, Isle Royale, and Mammoth Cave national parks during the year. Historic interpretation and restoration in the National Park System were augmented by the restoration efforts at Fort Necessity National Battlefield and the acquisition of the Crater property for inclusion in Petersburg National Military Park. [15]

During fiscal year 1938 the Park Service had technical supervision over 52,600 CCC enrollees in 324 camps, down from 444 camps in operation during the preceding year. The year closed with 294 camps assigned to the bureau, compared with 418 on July 1, 1937. [16] These included 78 in the continental national parks and monuments and 216 in state, county, and metropolitan parks and recreation areas and recreational demonstration areas. In addition ten camps with 800 enrollees were engaged in Hawaii, reducing the wild boar, sheep, and goats that were destroying vegetation and preventing natural regeneration. By the end of the year, 10,725,000 trees had been planted on 21,450 acres in Hawaii since the program had commenced. Some 400 enrollees were engaged in widening, realigning, and rehabilitating old roads on St. Thomas and St. Croix in the Virgin Islands.

The CCC workers were engaged in a variety of projects under the direction of the National Park Service during fiscal year 1938. Some 2,300 enrollees continued projects in recreational demonstration areas and other assisted with the Park, Parkway, and Recreational-Area Study, both of which subjects will be treated more fully in chapter four of this study. Of special note among CCC achievements that were initiated or completed during the year were: dams at Swift Creek and Montgomery Bell recreational demonstration areas in Virginia and Tennessee, respectively; mountain drives at Darling, Ascutney, and Okemo state forest parks in Vermont; protective sea groins at Fort Clinch State Park, Florida; horse, foot, and truck trail systems in Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah national parks and Colonial National Monument; lodges at Tishomingo State Park, Mississippi, and Margaret Lewis Norrie State Park, New York; an archeological museum at Mound Park, Alabama; historical restoration work at Fort Frederick, Maryland, Fort Clinch, Florida, Fort Morgan, Alabama, Hopewell Village in French Creek Recreational Demonstration Area, Pennsylvania, and La Purisima Mission near Lompoc, California; initial construction of a major campground at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park; landscaping roadsides of the Falls River Pass road and development of Falls River Pass and Timber Creek campgrounds, complete with water and sanitary facilities, in Rocky Mountain National Park; development of boat dock, warehouse, office, residence, and sewer and water facilities for the headquarters area on Mott Island in the authorized Isle Royale National Park; flood control, drainage work, and recreational development in the Skokie Valley outside Chicago, Illinois, and the Milwaukee River and other streams leading to Milwaukee, Wisconsin; commencement of construction of Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver, Colorado, and the Mountain Theatre in Mount Tamalpais State Park in Marin County, California; development of winter sports facilities at Grayling Winter Sports Area in Michigan, Rib Mountain State Park, Wisconsin, and Hyde State Park, near Santa Fe, New Mexico; restoration of Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon National Monument using the services of a mobile unit of Navajo Indians; development of Farmington Bay Waterfowl Refuge on the shores of Great Salt Lake, Utah; and construction of the Boulder City airport and archeological excavations in Boulder Dam National Recreation Area. [17]

The 1939 fiscal year witnessed continued advancement of federal, state, and local park programs under the National Park Service with the aid of CCC manpower and funds. Operations were carried on by an average of 54,410 enrollees in 312 camps. In the National Park System and recreational demonstration areas "more was accomplished than in any other year, due partly to allotments of funds which enabled certain highly suitable jobs to be undertaken." Of importance to the State Park ECW was the direct appeal to the state governors for full compliance with the law requiring adequate maintenance, operation, and utilization of the areas developed by the CCC in view of the probable future limitations on the federal government's ECW assistance to the states. National Park Service officials were also warned that CCC personnel should not be used for maintenance operations in the national parks and monuments so that their services in providing for long-term development projects could be maximized. [18]

During the year the CCC accomplished a number of conservation and recreation work programs in the national parks and monuments and the state parks. Major projects that were completed or carried to an advanced stage included:

Superintendent's house, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park

Central utility group and Ochs Memorial Observatory and Museum on Lookout Mountain, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

Entrance to Frozen Niagara section, Mammoth Cave National Park

Archeological museum for artifacts unearthed at Mound State Monument, Alabama

Restoration and interpretation, Fort Pulaski National Monument

Seawall campground and beach development, Acadia National Park

Temporary camping facilities for black visitors in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Trailside museum, Hawk's Nest State Park, West Virginia

Landscape treatment at new Peace Memorial, Gettysburg National Military Park

Bathhouse, Gulf State Park, Alabama

Bobwhite quail hatcheries, Buffalo Springs Fish and Game Preserve, Tennessee

Dock and beach development, St. Albans Bay State Forest Park, Vermont

Erosion control operations, Vicksburg National Military Park

Completion of 12 dams and work on 10 others

Water and sewer systems and campground, Rocky Mountain National Park

Campgrounds and cabin grounds, Yellowstone National Park

Elevator building, Wind Cave National Park

Reconstruction of New Salem, Illinois

Marking of Fort Lincoln and reconstruction of Mandan Indian Village near Bismarck, North Dakota

Stabilization of ruins in Bandelier, Chaco Canyon, and Aztec Ruins national monuments

Enlargement and pavement of underground lunch room, Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Road and trails, Grand Canyon National Park

Employees' residences, Mesa Verde National Park

Recreational facilities at Cuyamaca Rancho Pfeiffer's Redwood, and Humboldt Redwood state parks, California. [19]

During fiscal year 1940, which saw some reductions in the CCC program as a result of the onset of World War II in Europe, the National Park Service had technical supervision over 313 CCC camps--109 in the National Park System; 179 in state, county, and metropolitan parks; 22 in recreational demonstration areas; and 3 on Tennessee Valley Authority projects--and 1,175 enrollees in Hawaii and the Virgin Islands. Thirty miles of telephone line, representing a complete automatic system, was installed at Mammoth Cave National Park. Fire lookout towers were completed in Shenandoah, Great Smoky Mountains, and Mesa Verde national parks. Archeological reconnaissance and preservation work were carried out at Ocmulgee National Monument, restoration work began at Saratoga National Historical Park, and restoration of the 22-mile section of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal between Washington, D.C., and Seneca, Maryland, was largely completed. Public campgrounds and related facilities were completed in the Great Smokies and at Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. Service area landscaping and construction of water and telephone systems were carried out at Mount McKinley National Park. In addition to tree and plant disease control operations in the Great Smoky Mountains, Sequoia, and Yosemite national parks, recreation facilities, road and bridge construction, and beach improvements were performed in Riverside State Park, Washington, Provo River Metropolitan Park, Utah, Brown County State Park, Indiana, Westmoreland State Park, Virginia, and Florida Caverns State Park, Florida. [20]

During fiscal year 1941 the National Park Service operated in the continental United States an average of 304 CCC camps, comprising some 50,000 enrollees. The Service's quota of 310 camps at the beginning of the year was reduced to 293 in the fourth quarter to make companies available for duty on military areas, to develop thirteen Army recreation centers or rest camps near metropolitan areas, and to construct five airports as part of the national defense effort. Nevertheless, a number of projects were carried out in the National Park System and state and local parks. Among the most significant of these projects were: winter sports facilities at Mount Rainier and Yosemite national parks; construction of shelters along the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains national parks; recreational facilities along the Blue Ridge Parkway and in Boulder Dam National Recreation Area; commencement of preservation/restoration work at Appomattox Court House National Historical Monument and Kolomoki Mounds State Park, Georgia; preliminary work for a proposed scenic highway along the palisades of the Hudson River in the New Jersey section of Palisades Interstate Park; and recreational developments along the highway from the Florida mainland to Key West. [21]

Liquidation of the Civilian Conservation Corps was ordered by Congress on July 2, 1942, and was virtually completed by the end of that fiscal year. During the period of the program, the National Park Service administered CCC work in 655 parks and related areas: National Park System areas, 71; recreational demonstration areas, 23; Tennessee Valley Authority areas, 8; federal defense areas, 29; state parks, 405; county parks, 42; metropolitan parks, 75; and West Point Military Academy, New York, and Battery Cove Federal Reservation, Virginia. The Service supervised a total of approximately 3,114-camp years, or some 580,000-man years (including camp foremen) of work. Of this work about 28 percent was on National Park Service areas and 72 percent on other park and recreation areas. The amount of money expended by the Service totaled $130,119,019; however, it must be kept in mind that the overhead expenditures reflected only some 25 percent of the total, because housing, feeding, medical care, clothing, and education of the enrollees were expenditures paid from CCC funds allotted to the War Department. In his final annual report to Secretary Ickes in January 1944, Conrad Wirth summarized the accomplishments and significance of the CCC to the National Park Service:

The Civilian Conservation Corps advanced park development by many years. It made possible the development of many protective facilities on the areas that comprise the National Park System, and also provided, for the first time, a Federal aid program for State park systems through which the National Park Service gave technical assistance and administrative guidance for immediate park developments and long-range planning. . . . [22]

Chapter Three continues with...
Federal Emergency Relief Administration


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