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The Civilian Conservation Corps
Photos taken 1935-37 by Ezra Winfrey, and donated to Colossal Cave Mountain Park

The CCC was created in 1933 “for the relief of unemployment through the performance of useful public work, and for other purposes.”One of the most successful New Deal programs of the Great Depression, it existed less than ten years, but left a legacy of strong, handsome roads, bridges, and buildings throughout the United States.

Colossal Cave Mountain Park owes an enormous debt to the Civilian Conservation Corps for its handsome headquarters buildings, to say nothing of the installation of the lighting, walkways, and handrails in the Cave. The CCC also laid out the Park roads and built restrooms in the Park (since replaced, although the buildings still stand) as well as the ramada in La Selvilla picnic area.

Civilian Conservation Corps Basecamp in 1933Camp SP-10-A— the Park's camp— had its headquarters at La Posta Quemada Ranch, now part of the Park. The camp was manned by two companies. The first one, Company 858, was housed in tents on the Ranch from May, 1934 to October, 1935. They started the work in the Cave and constructed the Army barracks buildings that the second company lived in.

It was the second group, Company 2851, who built the stone buildings (now listed on the National Register of Historic Places) and finished the work in the Cave and the greater Park.

And they had a newsletter.

FellasOr newsletters, actually. The Colossal Cave Chronicle, edited by Vincent Suarez, started January 31, 1936 and ran for a month or two. It became The Cave Man, and was still edited by Vincent Suarez for the next several months. He was followed by James M. Lamb for about five months, and finally Charles Scott took it for at least seven months and eventually changed the name to The Colossal Caveman. We have copies of a number of the issues in the Library; of course, we would like nothing better than to obtain the entire run.

By the way, the "birthday" issue of The Cave Man noted: "August 19th [1936] will mark twelve months of progress for Company 2851 Colossal Cave, Vail Arizona. The men consider the work in and around the cave as the most interesting project in the Tucson District. The esteem by which the enrollee's hold this camp is clearly shown by the fact the company strength of 180 is the largest in the Tucson District."

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Beans, Beans and more Beans...

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Man By TruckA taste (in one case, almost literally) of the newsletters follows.

Beans, Beans, and More Beans

There are three kinds of beans: those we had yesterday, those we are having today, and those we will have tomorrow. In addition to that, some beans are white, some are brown, and some are spotted.

Beans may be served in seven ways: (1) plain beans, (2) fancy beans, (3) bean salad, (4) bean soup, (5) beans with chili, (6) beans without chili, and (7) bean sandwiches. We have yet to see them served with pancakes. We don't have beans for breakfast.

Beans are very healthful. They contain calories, vitamins, carbohydrates, and lots of other funny things. We are lucky that our cooks know seven ways to cook beans, in some camps they always serve them baked. [Volume 1, Number 1, January 31, 1936, Vincent Suarez, editor.]


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SP-10-A to Celebrate First Anniversary

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The local camp will light its first birthday candle August 17th which will mark twelve months of progress for Company 2851.

Enrollees Battle Conflagration

Eleven members of this camp extinguished a forest fire in the Rincon Park area August 3rd after twenty hours of courageous fighting, continuously battling with little rest. The blaze marked the initial forest fire in this area but it was successfully quelled... An article lauding the men's work appeared in the Arizona Daily Star...

Too Early for Rock n' Roll?Personals

Jack Chenault and Henry Schafer returned recently from Bracketsville, Texas, after an unsuccessful attempt to secure employment. They report the El Paso prison pea farm isn't quite up to SP-10-A standards.

Morning Exercise Inaugurated

"One-two-three relax" is again a familiar sound as enrollees nimbly exercise those stiff joints each morning prior to breakfast.

The value of calisthenics can't be overly rated so in the future morning exercises will be held five times weekly.

However, some of the not overly energetic believe that setting-down exercises during reveille would get more response from the boys. [Volume 1, No. 8, August 15, 1936, James M. Lamb, Editor.]

Photos taken 1935-37 by Ezra Winfrey, and donated to Colossal cave Mountain Park

Letter From Ezra Winfrey, CCC member

CCC Collection

The Research Library & Archives at Colossal Cave Mountain Park has a Civilian Conservation Corps Collection. The bulk of the collection documents the history of the CCC at Colossal Cave, but we also have materials concerning the CCC on a national and a state level. The collection includes:

  • 250-300 photographs including more than 130 photographs from the 1930s

  • Magazine and newspaper articles dating from the 1930s to the present

  • Books, theses, and reports

  • 20 oral histories of CCCers from CCC Camps around the country

  • The Colossal Cave CCC Camp newspaper from 1936-1937 as well as newspapers from other southern Arizona CCC Camps

  • The newsletter of the National Association of CCC Alumni from 1998 to the present

The collection is available for on-site research or you may contact the Research Librarian, or call (520) 647-7121, for information.

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Colossal Cave Mountain Park
16721 E. Old Spanish Trail
Vail, AZ 85641 - 520.647.PARK (7275)


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